Teamwork in two languages, across ESPN platforms produces feature on El Tri, ManU star Chicharito

With respect to the likes of Landon Donovan and David Beckham, Mexico’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is arguably the most popular soccer player in this part of the world.

Tonight at historic Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Chicharito and the Mexican National Team (El Tri) will kick off the final round of qualifying matches for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil against Jamaica (ESPN2 and WatchESPN at 9:30 p.m. ET).

A week from today, the Mexican striker will join his Premier League club in Spain when Manchester United faces nine-time European champions Real Madrid FC in the first leg of an away-and-home series in the 2012-2013 UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16.

Heading into these two huge matches, ESPN sought to profile the 24-year-old striker, who has taken English football by storm with 46 goals in 106 ManU matches, often as a substitute.

The task of securing ESPN’s multi-language profile of the El Tri star was assigned to coordinating producer Ursula Pfeiffer in ESPN’s cross-platform newsgathering unit.

Despite the daunting nature of the project, Pfeiffer knew she would have the help she needed, thanks to the resources available through ESPN’s English and Spanish-language domestic networks, as well as the network’s content team in Latin America.

“This required great cooperation on all fronts, but that is primarily what we do,” said Pfeiffer. “We are constantly looking for opportunities to serve fans by providing content in many languages for television and online via ESPN FC, the company’s digital soccer hub.”

Here’s how the feature came to fruition:

Mexican-born Fernando Schwartz, an ESPN Deportes and Latin America analyst, secured the exclusive sit-down and interviewed Chicharito in Manchester, England. Associate producer Lizette Castanda and production assistant Jeff Hernandez spearheaded the production.

ESPN bureau reporter Pedro Gomez then wrote and narrated the English-language version of the piece where Chicharito speaks of how happy he is to play for one of soccer’s premier clubs and Manchester United’s acclaimed manager Alex Ferguson; he also talks about his love for playing soccer the right way and how it is on par with his drive to score goals.

The English version features Gomez’s narration with Chicharito speaking in his own words in his native language (Spanish) with on-screen translations and English.

“The easy choice would be to run sound of Chicharito speaking in English, but we know that, like most people, he would be more comfortable speaking in his native tongue, so we ended up getting the best of both worlds,” said Michael Leber, senior coordinating producer, newsgathering and planning.

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