Legendary football commentator John Motson dies aged 77 after ‘illustrious 50-year career’

John Motson during commentary Credit: Alamy
John Motson during commentary Credit: Alamy

Legendary football commentator John Motson has died at the age of 77.

Motson retired in 2018 after covering 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships, 29 FA Cup finals and more than 200 England matches.

‘Motty’, who began working for Match of the Day in 1971 and commentated on more than 2,500 games, was hugely popular with generations of football fans and was famous for his sheepskin coat.

Motson, who became an OBE for services to sports broadcasting in 2001, was the son of a Methodist minister, born in Salford, Lancashire. After starting out as a newspaper reporter in Barnet and at the Sheffield Morning Telegraph, he joined the BBC in 1968 as a sports presenter on Radio 2.

Motson’s commentary on Ronnie Radford’s famous long-range strike which helped non-league Hereford knock top-flight Newcastle out of the FA Cup in 1972 saw him take top billing on Match of the Day – pushing him into the spotlight and the affections of the sporting public.

His enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the game, its players and managers, earned him a place in the hearts of fans for five decades.

Current Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker has described Motson as “a quite brilliant commentator and the voice of football in this country for generations”.

Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler said he was the standard-bearer for those that followed.

“John was the standard-setter for us all,” Tyler said. “We basically all looked up to him – his diligence, his dedication, his knowledge. He was a very serious broadcaster but he was a real fun guy to be around.”

Fellow commentator Clive Tyldesley wrote on Twitter: “As a teenager I just wanted to be John Motson. Nobody else.”

Motson’s long career also took in two Olympic Games and Wimbledon’s memorable 1988 FA Cup final triumph against Liverpool at Wembley as the Crazy Gang beat the Culture Club.

Motson hung up his microphone for the BBC at the end of the 2017-18 Premier League season and after his final game – Crystal Palace v West Brom – he was invited on to the pitch.

Palace boss Roy Hodgson made a special presentation and Motson was warmly applauded by fans.

READ MORE: A Football365 love letter to…the retiring John Motson

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