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Remembering Danilo Noel Diron: Dave Johnson

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Earlier today, we shared word that our long-time friend and United Spanish Radio Network color analyst Danilo Noel Diron had passed.  Among the many well wishers, our television play-by-play voice Dave Johnson, who is traveling in Europe, was quick to drop a line to us:

Danilo Noel Diron knew the score. He believed strongly in life’s ultimate referee. It is his faith and the memories he gave us that will see us through now as we try to grapple without seeing Danilo at every home D.C. United game.

Yet he will be there. Here in Germany, where I am on a tour with the Washington Wizards, I can feel his warm embrace. I can feel his hug and kiss on the cheek and almost hear his words.

Every conversation seemed to start with how are you my friend. Danilo was about friendship. His commitment was as sincere as his words. And what Danilo was committed to he loved.

Danilo loved D.C. United. Each victory was greeted by him with joy of Christmas morning. The defeats while disappointing never dented his pride in the badge and belief that there would be a better day ahead next game.

I remember meeting Danilo for the first time back in 1997. Life on the road that season with him and his Radio America colleagues was something to treasure. I am grateful for all the drives to stadiums and dinners after games (yes we often got lost while talking about the game).

I can still remember a dinner after a game in Chicago that went well past midnight. My broadcast partner at the time was Gordon Bradley, who we also lost this year, and he and Danilo were engaged in a friendly animated conversation.

There was nothing unusual about a friendly conversation with Danilo except that he was speaking Spanish and Gordon, who did not know a lick of Spanish, was speaking English. Yet they were talking football and with hand gestures and players names they were speaking the same language.

I thought at the time it was just another example of why we are a part of the greatest game. A guy from Uruguay and a guy from the coal mines of England are the best of friends thanks to a simple game that involves kicking a ball.

In short I am sad but thankful for having known Danilo Noel Diron. Danilo. His smile, that twinkle in his eye, the welcoming hug, are all parts of Danilo I will think of with every United goal.