ZELIC ON THE BALL FOR CUP
LUCY Zelic was just a year into her TV career when SBS entrusted the young presenter with hosting duties for the last World Cup.
Fronting 32 matches and live World Cup shows from the broadcaster’s Sydney studios was the break of a lifetime, with the added pressure and thrill of throwing down the line to commentating colossus Les Murray on the ground in Brazil.
Fast forward four years and the more seasoned Zelic will get her start at the game’s big dance, this time live from Russia – a major moment for many reasons, but most significantly for the SBS team, the first World Cup without Murray, who died last year.
As Zelic tells TV Guide: “It will be quite a trying time for us emotionally as we look ahead, because he was the king, to put it simply.”
Carrying on his legacy is one thing, she says, making her own mark in his honour another, she explains.
“One of the great things about Les was not only did he teach Australians about the sport at a time when it was highly disregarded and discriminated against but he taught Australians what it meant to people but also that there was a far bigger picture … as the most popular sport on the planet,” she says.
While the host nation Russia has raised some concerns, Zelic has no qualms about it, making a vow to herself to enjoy this Cup experience more than she did four years ago.
“I didn’t enjoy it because I was far too concerned with not screwing it up, whereas now I feel like I’ll be able to enjoy drinking in moments a lot more and really savour them,” she says.
Taking another leaf out of Murray’s book of life lessons, Zelic has done her research on each Cup team (Germany’s her tip, with England a dark horse); as well as the stories beyond the player form guides.
“Without Les there to impart all his wisdom, Fos [co-host Craig Foster] and I feel … in fact, the entire on-air team … we feel like we’ve taken it upon ourselves to really go that extra mile this time, to do his legacy justice but also to do the World Cup justice. This is what it’s about.”
FIFA WORLD CUP 2018: PREVIEW SHOW 10.30PM, THURSDAY, SBS