George Hamilton (broadcaster)

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George Hamilton
Born 1951
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Nationality Irish
Occupation Broadcaster
Employer Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ)

George Hamilton (born 1951) is an Irish broadcaster born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is best known as the chief football commentator for RTÉ, for which he also commentates on other sporting events, such as the Olympic Games. He presents a classical music program on RTÉ lyric fm called The Hamilton Scores.

Early Life and education[edit]

While a student at Methodist College,[1] Belfast, Hamilton was, for a time, principal cellist with the school orchestra. He then studied German and French at Queen's University, Belfast.[2]

Broadcasting career[edit]

Hamilton began his commentary career with BBC Sport, before joining RTÉ eight years later in 1984. He had previously worked for RTÉ during the 1978 FIFA World Cup.[2] Since 2003, he has worked for RTÉ lyric fm (Ireland's classical radio station) on Saturday mornings. For many years, he fronted a popular weekly quiz show on RTÉ, Know Your Sport, alongside fellow commentator Jimmy Magee.[3]

Hamilton was chief commentator for RTÉ Sport's coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the ninth one in which he has been involved.[4][5] Hamilton was RTÉ's chief commentator at Euro 2012, and commentated on all of Ireland's matches in the competition. He has been involved in the coverage of the Olympic Games since Moscow Olympics in 1980.

Memorable quotes[edit]

Hamilton is known for his use of colourful phrases and memorable quotes when commentating on games – his phrase describing David O'Leary's penalty against Romania in the 1990 World Cup, "The nation holds its breath", was used for a book of Irish soccer quotations, compiled by Eoin Corry, for which Hamilton wrote the foreword.[6]

The sports humour website,, takes its title from another quote by Hamilton: "And Bonner has gone 165 minutes of these championships without conceding a goal. Oh danger here..."[7] dead link

Other examples[edit]

  • "Real Madrid are like a rabbit in the glare of the headlights in the face of Manchester United's attacks. But this rabbit comes with a suit of armour in the shape of two precious away goals"[7]
  • "And Ireland have got to contain the brothers Baggio." [Later in the game…] "The Baggio brothers, of course, are not related"[7]
  • "When I said they'd scored two goals, of course I meant they'd scored one"[7]

Personal life[edit]

On 16 August 2011, he felt unwell and had a suspected heart attack, and later had several hours of emergency bypass surgery at the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin after being transferred from St. Vincent's University Hospital.[8][9] He recovered, and resumed both his commentating and radio show.


  1. ^ "Methodist College". Guide to independent schools. Retrieved 31 July 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "RTÉ Biography". RTÉ Lyric FM. Archived from the original on 25 December 2008. 
  3. ^ "'The nation holds its breath!' – George Hamilton recalls his iconic Italia 90 commentary". The 42. 18 June 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  4. ^ Black, Fergus (2 June 2010). "RTÉ hopes Ossie and squad will spur fans to back home team". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  5. ^ O'Malley, Carl (6 June 2010). "RTÉ roll out big guns for their 56 live games". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 October 2011. (subscription required)
  6. ^ The Nation Holds Its Breath: Great Irish Soccer Quotations
  7. ^ a b c d Great Sporting Quotes Archived 19 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine. RTÉ Sport
  8. ^ Keogh, Elaine (20 August 2011). "Hamilton recovering after heart surgery". The Irish Times. Retrieved 20 August 2011. Hamilton, who turned 60 earlier this year, had been complaining of feeling unwell with some breathing problems, and thought it could be the flu. 
  9. ^ "Commentator George Hamilton recovering from suspected heart attack". 20 August 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 

External links[edit]