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Jorge Perez-Navarro’s voice will make you feel the World Cup

You’ve never truly lived the World Cup until you’ve heard the Fox announcer call a Mexico game.

Korea Republic v Mexico: Group F - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The delight of Jorge Perez-Navarro is the paroxysmal orgasm of his narration. It has a natural excitement, one that does not need coaxing. The splendor is paranormal. But the execution creates an otherworldly experience. When listening to Rick Ross one must expect his cavernous, guttural grunt to emerge, a sprinkle of his celebrity for an artist over a generation of work. The same must be done for Perez-Navarro. The explosions of candor, the elongation of consonants, the anecdotes and elation one doesn’t always have the privilege of experiencing in American sporting entertainment that, at times, can be second nature to Spanish-language television.

The World Cup is Perez-Navarro’s moment in the sun. It has been coming since 2002, when he started providing commentary for Univision on “Contacto Deportivo” for four World Cups. His voice’s beauty was a fixture for five Copa América championships, nine Copa MX tournaments and several CONCACAF qualifiers plus 12 Major League Soccer seasons and several international qualifiers for both America’s men’s and women’s teams. Even now, as he’s providing soccer commentary for Fox Sports, his expressions and assertions still wax cathartic. I was left yearning by halftime of Mexico-South Korea, craving more of Perez-Navarro as if the sound was pharmaceutical.

How could anyone ask otherwise? “Everybody zip it, let’s play!” he’d say as the match began. “Theeee headerrrrrrrr” he’d yell at the 12th minute when Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez almost found goal from a set piece. “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh! That was so SO close” he’d weep when Hirving “Chucky” Lozano crashed into Lee Young near goal. “Fighting for position! Fighting for possession!” the alliteration floating from his tongue, as Carlos Vela fought for a ball down the right side of the pitch.

Perez-Navarro, born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, training his exalted lilt at Núcleo Radio Guadalajara, before relocating to Texas and Miami, displayed a pride for Mexico that has often been left to its citizens and social media posts. Rarely have Americans been forced to experience it on screen during soccer’s holy grail.

Even as South Korea’s attack was unraveling El Tri’s defense with uncontrollable sprints upfield, the belief was still in his side. Perez-Navarro pleaded with referees, asking if South Korea’s reckless defense should be punishable when Mexican strikers laid strewn across the pitch. “Finally,” Perez-Navarro would gasp in the 58th minute, once South Korea received a yellow card. His excitable, singsong speech turned fearful when Son Heung-Min broke free in the 22nd minute until Guillermo Ochoa flashed his keeping brilliance in goal. “This is exactly what Mexico did to Germany!” he’d say. Then, of course, he exploded again seconds later when Ochoa did it again, “Deniiiieeeeed!”

Such fearlessness with one’s voice felt heroic. If you asked me to recall the play of Ahmed Musa, Nigeria’s firecracker forward, or Sadio Mane’s beautiful touches for Senegal, perhaps the ease with which Paul Pogba plays for France, or the dominating presence of Romelu Lukaku for Belgium’s attack, I would hope the shaky confidence in my tone matched the untouched ebullience of his.

This can be captured in Mexico’s first goal, as Vela stepped into the box for a penalty kick. “Do you love soccer?” Perez-Navarro asked his Fox partner Mariano Trujillo. “Soccer is just a game for you. Well it’s not for him.” The crescendo was almighty. “He’s licking his lips. He’s breathing so deep. Here comes the ball! Ahhhhhhhhhh! Gooooooooaaaaaaaallllllllll by Mexico! Kabooom! From the bambalero! Gooooooooooaaaaaaaal!”

The roar was mightier when history reached the pitch for Chicharito. Lozano found himself in open space and launched a through ball to the legend who cut the ball back, left to right, as if he made the sign of the cross.

“Number Fifty! Num-ber Fifty! Can you say numero cinquenta?!” Perez-Navarro sang of Hernandez becoming Mexico’s all-time leading goal scorer. “GOOOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLLOOOOOWWLLLL! BY MEXICO! MMMMGOOOOAAAAALOOOWLLL! A historic one for the legendary Javier Hernández Balcázar!”

The rest was the magic deserved for North America’s lonely champions on the world stage. Perez-Navarro described it as a party, while injecting the Spanish language wherever he could for the rest of the game. For Ochoa’s performance “It’s still 2-0. Two nada dos!” “Dos a cero,” Trujullo would counter. “DOS A CERO!” Perez-Navarro reminded, before silence entered the broadcast and all that could be heard were incantations from the audience. For the Mexican fans in the stands that’ve paraded around Russia, dancing in squares with tourists watching, creating earthquakes when Mexico scores, “What a party. Mexicans don’t need an excuse to make a party out of nothing.”

Mexico would win 2-1. It only felt right after Perez-Navarro left his spirit in the box near the pitch. A man like this doesn’t deserve the specific tragedy that can come with repeated losses at the World Cup. He has given us so much, performance after performance, a drama unfolding on our screens that some Americans may have never expected.

Part of me hopes Perez-Navarro finds his countrymen before the day ends in Russia. And, when no one is watching, dances in those squares, basks in victory, relishes his own mini-quake of joy and belts one line of Quirino Mendoza y Cortés’ Spanish copla, Cielito Lindo, one “Ay Ay Ay Ay!” one “Canta y no llores!” as the sun sets on the history he poetically delivered to Americans for 90 minutes.