Meet Angus Loughran – the sports geek that survived David Baddiel and Frank Skinner and a heart attack

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Loughran was offered the chance to comment remotely on the 1993 Copa America from Eurosport’s base in Paris. no brainer “I thought if I’m going to do this, I’ve got to do my research, I don’t know much about Ecuador,” he says. “So I did the Eurogoals show on Monday, it finished at 11.30. I got a two o’clock flight from Paris to Quito. I went to the opening ceremony then went to a couple of games. Ecuador against Venezuela, then to Ambato to watch Uruguay against USA. I did all the research, then came back to finish the commentary from Paris.” I check the Copa America results from that tournament, partly as good journalistic practice and partly wondering about his memory of him for reasons that will become clear. He is spot on.

Loughran has been seriously ill. His health troubles began in 2012 with a heart attack while in the Olympic stadium for the London Games’ opening ceremony. “I remember the ambulance didn’t know where it was going because the sat nav wasn’t working. We were stuck in traffic, I was looking for someone to help me [on the street] and I saw this bloke and said ‘do you know where the chest hospital is?’ He said ‘you’re that man! Is Modric going to Real Madrid?’ Tottenham fans!

“Anyway, we got to the hospital, they must have thought I was the king, first VIP from the Olympic stadium. The doctor said he’d love to go to the Olympics but he couldn’t get any tickets. I said ‘well tell you what, you’re going to help me with stents, there’s two tickets for the closing ceremony’.”

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Six months later he had a brush with pneumonia and feared for his life but Loughran recovered and returned to his fearsome traveling schedule. Admittedly I have slowed down a touch, spending a week in some places rather than a day. In 2020 he went to Italy for a Champions League match between Manchester United and Atalanta. Next stop was a panel appearance for a bookmaker’s Cheltenham preview in London. “I got into Oxford Street and felt really odd. I got a phone call, but I couldn’t really speak. I could hear them but they couldn’t hear me and I thought the phone was broken.

“We go into the panel and I think I’m okay, but I’m obviously not and people are laughing at me. I didn’t realize what they were laughing at but I must have been slurring and making mistakes.” He had suffered a stroke.

Eventually an ambulance was called and Loughran was taken to hospital. Doctors were unsure if he would survive the night. He wanted a prognosis he could parse and managed to make himself understood enough for one doctor to give him odds. “He said ‘even money’. Those are bad odds! I wanted 10/1 on, I wanted it to be like England vs San Marino.”

Thankfully he made it through and after another bad bout of pneumonia he is now two years into recovery and full of praise for the Leonard Cheshire charity which has helped him recover his speech after suffering expressive dysphasia. He is hoping to work again, but fears his commentary days from him are behind him. “But you never know. You’ve got to be positive. I’ve had my life saved three times. I’d love to go to Cheltenham but I’m not going to be stupid.”

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There is time for one more story about a week in 1982 in which Loughran, then 15, attended the World Cup final in Madrid, The Open golf at Royal Troon and the third Test between England and India at the Oval. He was one of many taking exception to the conservative batting of England’s Chris Tavaré. “It was so boring, I hadn’t had a run in 30, 40 minutes. Kapil Dev was at the boundary and we said ‘if we get a chair will you take it to the wicket?’ He said ‘I can’t do it, but if you do I’ll make sure you’re okay’.

“I went into the pavilion, got a stool, walked down the stairs, the gate man even opened it for me.” Loughran made it into the middle and offered Tavaré a seat from which to bat. “People laughed. I wasn’t arrested or anything but I was walked off by a policeman and policewoman.” He was even allowed back to his seat but told not to try anything similar. “The only problem was I hadn’t told my parents and it was on ITV.”

Practically bouncing now, Loughran reels off more of the epochal sporting moments he has witnessed, unaided by his meticulous notes. I interrupt to ask if there is a sport he does not like? He looks at me as if this is the most ridiculous question he has ever heard. “Not really, no.”

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www.telegraph.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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