Legendary commentator John Motson, who enjoyed an illustrious 50-year career with the BBC, has died aged 77.
Motson covered 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships and 29 FA Cup finals for BBC Sport before retiring from the organization in 2018.
Popularly known as “Motty”, he has been working on “Match of the Day” since 1971.
“It is with great sadness that we announce that John Motson OBE passed away peacefully in his sleep today (Thursday),” Motson’s family said in a statement.
He is survived by his wife Anne and son Frederick.
“John Motson was the voice of a generation of footballers – guiding us through the twists and turns of the FA Cup, the ups and downs of the World Cup and of course Saturday nights at the match of the day,” said BBC Director General Tim David.
“Like all greats behind the mic, John had the right words at the right time for all the big moments.”
Match of the Day host Gary Lineker said he was “deeply saddened” by the news of Motson’s death.
He added: “Quite a brilliant commentator and the voice of football in this country for generations. He will be greatly missed.”
The son of a Methodist minister, Motson began his career as a reporter for Barnet Press and the Sheffield Morning Telegraph.
He also worked as a freelancer for BBC Radio Sheffield before joining the BBC full-time in 1968.
After starting out as a sports reporter for Radio 2, he broke through four years later in the Match of the Day during the famous FA Cup replay between Hereford and Newcastle.
Originally billed as a five-minute segment, Hereford’s surprise 2-1 win – with Ronnie Radford’s famous 30-yard shot – resulted in the match being promoted to the main game, with Motson capturing all the drama.
From 1979 to 2008, Motson – known for his signature sheepskin coats and encyclopedic knowledge of the game – was the BBC’s voice at major finals such as the FA Cup, European Championship and World Cup.
That run included his record-breaking sixth World Cup final in Berlin in 2006 and his 29th FA Cup final in 2008.
He has also covered more than 200 English matches and commentated on almost 2,500 televised matches.
His last game for Match of the Day was between Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion in 2018.
After full-time he was invited onto the pitch and applauded by fans before Palace manager Roy Hodgson presented him with a framed copy of the program from his first and last game at Selhurst Park and a crystal microphone.
He returned to work for a stint at Talksport and also provided voiceovers for a few football computer games.
Motson became an OBE for sports broadcast services in 2001.
He too was honored at the British Academy Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) in 2018 for his “Outstanding Contribution to Sport Broadcasting”.
Tributes to Motson
“We are very sad to hear that John Motson has passed away,” the Football Association said.
“His iconic voice will always be synonymous with football.”
commentator Clive Tyldesley, who worked alongside Motson at the BBC in the 1990s said: “As a teenager I just wanted to be John Motson. Nobody else. Terribly sad.”
“An absolute legend of the game. So many of us grew up listening to this man as he described the action and goals in MOTD and cup finals. Sad loss,” said the former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher, who is a Sky Sports expert.
Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler told BBC Radio 5 Live: “John was the standard setter for all of us. We basically all looked up to him – his diligence, his dedication, his knowledge. He was a very serious broadcaster but was a really fun guy to be with.
“I went on a couple of football tours with him. We all had to get up and talk and when Motty spoke we knew we were going to have a good time – he had a great sense of humor.”