My Mentor: Ashley House on Des Lynam

'It became clear that Des does not know why he is a national treasure'
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The Independent Online

I was lined up to work on the launch of Arsenal TV with Des Lynam in January, but a week or two beforehand my boss at Setanta Sports heard the news that Des had got an OBE and asked me to do an interview with him to put out the next day.

Over the last couple of years I've interviewed the biggest names in sport, especially football, and pride myself on not getting nervous – there are more important things to be nervous about. The strangest thing happened the day I interviewed Des: I was shaking like a leaf.

I phoned him for a chat before the interview, and I was unable to stop myself being utterly sycophantic at the end of the conversation, and saying that from a personal point of view it was a great honour.

One of the guys I worked for told me he thought I was the next Des Lynam. Given that Des is my broadcasting hero, that was the biggest compliment anyone ever. I told Des at the end and he said: "Hmm. You're the second person in my life who has told me that someone has told them that. The first person no longer works in the industry, so be careful what you wish for!"

When I was growing up, the guys I was watching were Des, Jim Rosenthal and Saint & Greavsie – the old school of sports broadcasting. Those guys don't come across as enormous experts although they are. Instead they try and communicate the excitement and emotion and passion of the sport to those who are unable to get to the event themselves. Des is never too technical, as some ex-players can be. He wants to know the same things the fans do, and that approach really inspired me and still does.

When I interviewed Des he was very modest. It came across that he does not know exactly why he's achieved such acclaim and become a national treasure. On the launch day of Arsenal TV he came in to do a fans' forum with some ex-players as well as the manager Arsene Wenger and the comedian Matt Lucas, who is an Arsenal fan. There were some big egos in the room but Des wasn't one of them.

Ashley House is a Setanta Sports News and Arsenal TV presenter