John Motson, legendary BBC football commentator, dies aged 77 | UK News

John Motson, the legendary BBC football commentator, has died aged 77, the broadcaster has said.

Motson, popularly known as “Motty”, had an illustrious 50-year career with the BBC, working with the broadcaster’s flagship football highlights show, Match of the Day, since 1971.

According to the BBC, he commentated on over 2,500 televised games and covered 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships and 29 FA Cup finals for BBC Sport.

Revered across the game, the commentator, often seen beside the pitch pre-game with a microphone and in his trademark sheepskin coat, was awarded an OBE for services to sports broadcasting in 2001.

Motson, who is survived by his wife Anne and son Frederick, hung up his microphone and retired from the BBC in 2018, saying “I am going out on a high”.

BBC sports commentator John Motson with his wife Anne poses for photographs after receiving an OBE from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 2001
BBC sports commentator John Motson with his wife Anne

‘An absolute legend of the game’

Figures throughout the game paid tribute to the commentator, including Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher.

In a post on Twitter, he wrote: “RIP John Motson. An absolute Legend of the game.

“So many of us grew up listening to this man describing the action and goals on MOTD and cup finals. Sad loss.”

Former England striker and Match of the Day host Gary Lineker also posted a tribute, writing: “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.”

Fellow commentator, Clive Tyldesley, who worked alongside Motson at BBC Sport in the 1990s, wrote: “As a teenager I just wanted to be John Motson. Nobody else. Terribly sad.”

BBC director-general Tim Davie said: “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.

“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.”

The FA also paid tribute, describing him as the voice of football.

In a post on Twitter, the organisation said: “We are very sad to hear that John Motson has passed away.

“His iconic voice will always be synonymous with football. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. RIP, Motty.”

From Barnet to Brazil

Born in Salford in July 1945 to a Methodist minister father, Motson began his career with stints on the Barnet Press and Sheffield Morning Telegraph.

He joined the BBC full-time as a sports presenter for Radio 2 in 1968, having worked at first as a freelancer for BBC Radio Sheffield.

His 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.

“Oh what a goal!” declared Motson after Radford’s strike.

“Radford the scorer. Ronnie Radford! And the crowd are on the pitch. What a tremendous shot by Ronnie Radford.”

His long career 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.

His famous sheepskin coat became almost as iconic as his voice – though it was not a trend he was hoping to set when he first wore it to a match in 1990.

Speaking to talkSPORT, he said: “I didn’t set out to make the sheepskin coat anything special, but it just happened when I was at Wycombe in 1990 and the snow came down.

John Motson doing television work in the ground before the match between Chelsea and Stoke City

“I looked forlorn and it just stuck from then on.

He said that he had worn 10 sheepskin coats throughout his career, adding: “I have always had them made to measure. Even when it is warm people ask where the coat is.

“I’ve always paid for my own. People think the BBC pay for them but they don’t.”

Motson commentated on 10 World Cups across the world, including Japan in 2002 and 2014 in Brazil.

Motson hung up his microphone for the BBC at the end of the 2017-18 Premier League season.

His final game for Match of the Day was between Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion in 2018.

He later came out of retirement to provide commentary for radio station, talkSPORT.

Outside of football, Motson lived in Buckinghamshire with wife, Anne.

The couple were married for more than 45 years.

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