11 times John Motson was perfect: Gazza, Gerrard, Ronnie Radford…
The footballing world is mourning the death of former BBC commentator John Motson at the age of 77, as millions of fans remember those momentous moments narrated by the great man.
Motson covered 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships and 29 FA Cup finals for the BBC. He worked on Match of the Day between 1971 and 2018 and became known as the voice of football for generations of supporters.
“John Motson was the voice of a footballing generation – steering us through the twists and turns of FA Cup runs, the highs and lows of World Cups and, of course, Saturday nights on Match of the Day,” said BBC director-general Tim Davie.
“Like all the greats behind the mic, John had the right words, at the right time, for all the big moments.”
And we’ve picked out 11 moments where Motson was simply perfect.
The moment that set Motty on the path to national treasure status. Any football fan that cannot recite this in their sleep should seek immediate medical attention.
“Oh, what a goal! What a goal! Radford the scorer, Ronnie Radford, and the crowd, the crowd are invading the pitch and it will take some time to clear the field”
As a Hereford lad, John Motson’s iconic commentary has been ingrained since my birth
Rest In Peace, legend
— Rory Talks Football (@Rory_Talks_Ball) February 23, 2023
While Ossie Ardilles arguably made the bigger impact of Tottenham’s Argentine pair, there’s no doubt that Ricky Villa scored the best goal seen on English television in years.
Motson narrated his FA Cup-winning effort against Manchester City in 1981 with his trademark boyish incredulity, matching the twists and turns of Villa’s historic run and finish.
To paraphrase Brian Clough, Tardelli’s life-affirming scream in the 1982 World Cup final wasn’t the best goal celebration of all time, but it’s in the top one.
Perched somewhere in the steep stands of the Bernabeu, Motson’s pause after the Italy midfielder pierced the West German net to allow the moment space to breathe was genius.
Very wholesome. Very Motty.
‘TIGANA… TIGANA… PLATINI… GOAL!!!’
Euro ’84 wasn’t broadcast live on UK television, with both BBC and ITV taking the parochial high road after England failed to qualify.
So Motson’s losing his collective shit over Michel Platini’s winner in France’s emotional semi-final win over Portugal could only be caught via late-night highlights. Shame.
‘Crazy gang have beaten the Culture Club’
Wimbledon’s victory over Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup final was the footballing equivalent of the Monster Raving Loony Party seizing power from post-Falklands Thatcher.
As the joyous underdogs cavorted on the pitch, Motson captured the mood perfectly with some inspired alliteration.
‘Augenthaler couldn’t do it, Lineker probably could…’
Over 26 million people watched England’s agonising defeat to West Germany at Italia ’90, the vast majority with the BBC’s coverage from Turin beaming into their living rooms.
While the vast majority of them made guttural noises when the ball fell to Gary Lineker in the area, Motson just about kept his composure for the equaliser.
Gazza against Scotland, Euro ’96
Motson’s commentary, shining as brightly as the Wembley sun, illuminated one of the most iconic goals that England have ever scored.
Twelve years before Sergio Aguero defined Martin Tyler’s career, Motson had his own orgasmic moment as Spain completed a mad-cap victory over Yugoslavia at Euro 2000.
Heskey makes it FIVE
After a wobble in the mid-90s, Motson had finally seen off Barry Davies to become the BBC’s main guy by the time England smashed five, increasingly preposterous goals, past Germany in Munich in 2001.
The sheepskin-coated don would later crown this game as his favourite commentary of all, as you can tell by his voice as Emile Heskey sauntered through for number five.
The Gerrard final
Motson’s final live commentary came in June 2008, as Spain beat Germany in the European Championship final. His final Match of the Day appearance would come 10 years later.
Despite being past his peak by the end, Motson was still the perfect occupant of the gantry when the game see-sawed violently, his timber reflecting the general madness on the pitch.
Nobody else could’ve matched his reaction as Steven Gerrard broke West Ham’s hearts with that goal in the 2006 FA Cup final. He’ll be sorely missed.
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