John Motson dead: Legendary BBC football commentator ‘Motty’ dies aged 77

English football icon: John Motson worked for the BBC for more than 50 years (PA)
English football icon: John Motson worked for the BBC for more than 50 years (PA)

The football world is mourning the death of legendary commentator John Motson.

The Motson family announced in a statement that the English football icon had passed away in his sleep on Thursday at the age of 77.

‘Motty’ worked for the BBC for more than 50 years in a memorable career, with the corporation tweeting: “A true legend. Rest in peace, John.”

One of the most recognisable and beloved voices in football commentary, Motson hung up his BBC microphone and trademark sheepskin coat back in 2018 after five decades in which he covered a total of 10 World Cups, 29 FA Cup finals and more than 200 England international matches, having initially joined the Beeb in 1968.

Motson worked for BBC Radio Sheffield and Radio 2 before moving to Match of the Day, where he was behind the likes of David Coleman and Barry Davies before commentating on Hereford’s famous FA Cup upset against Newcastle at Edgar Street in 1972 helped establish his name as a broadcaster.

He remained a staple on Match of the Day, producing some of English football’s most well-known commentary lines before standing down at the end of the 2017/18 campaign. Motson had started out in journalism at the Barnet Press and also worked for the Sheffield Morning Telegraph.

After retiring from the BBC, Motson later worked for talkSPORT for a brief spell and in 2001 was appointed as an OBE. He received a special BAFTA TV award in 2018 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to sports broadcasting.

Motson’s passing follows that of Dickie Davies, the former face of ITV’s sport coverage who died earlier this week at the age of 94.

Motson, who was born in Salford and grew up in Lewisham, is survived by his wife Anne and son Frederick.

"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.

"He will rightly be remembered as a legendary figure in British sports broadcasting, respected by those in the game, loved by fans and an inspiration to those who followed him in the commentary box."

Motson’s passing has led to an outpouring of grief and tributes from across football, with Match of the Day host and former England striker Gary Lineker tweeting: “Deeply saddened to hear that John Motson has died.

“A quite brilliant commentator and the voice of football in this country for generations. He’ll be very much missed. RIP Motty.”

Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler said: “"He was a standard setter for us all.

"He was a very serious broadcaster but he was a really fun guy to be around. He had a great sense of humour.

"Just a few days after Dickie Davies left us, broadcasting has taken two very big hits. He was an icon and a beacon to us all."