The Call Up

Atlanta United president Darren Eales reveals origins of his emoji transfer teasers

Darren Eales - Atlanta United - president

Since becoming president of Atlanta United, Darren Eales has emerged as one of Major League Soccer's foremost executives when it comes to interacting and engaging with supporters.

The 48-year-old Englishman often teases Atlanta's new acquisitions with cryptic tweets and code names, typically through the use of emojis, which leaves Five Stripes fans scrambling to figure out which player might be inbound.

Eales explained the tradition on the latest episode of The Call Up, revealing that it dates back to his days in England's top divisions and his work at West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur.

"I'd always have code names for signings we were going for, because when you're emailing, talking, particularly in the Premier League, you've got to keep everything concise as you can," Eales explained. "So I'd always have code names for the signings we were working on. One of the early [Atlanta] ones was Darlington Nagbe. So nag [means] horse in England, so I called him 'horse wasp.' So, 'do you think Portland would trade horse wasp?' And that was the chat.

"So when we did Nagbe, we did the horse wasp emojis and that was the first one. For me, quite sadly, it's probably the funnest part of the job. I love doing it. I think 2020 was a great example. We can get so caught up in the world of soccer and thinking it's the most important thing in the world of soccer and thinking it's the most important thing in the world and we forget we're in the entertainment industry. There's ups and downs, there's far bigger things out there that matter more than sport. So for me, I quite like just having fun with the fans on trying to come up with something different."

Eales discussed a wide variety of topics on The Call Up, including his early impressions of new head coach Gabriel Heinze and the impending return of superstar forward Josef Martinez.

Be sure to catch the entire episode here.