Iconic commentator John Motson dies aged 77

Football commentator John Motson, who was behind the mic at the BBC for 50 years, has died aged 77.

Football commentator John Motson, who was behind the mic at the BBC for 50 years, has died aged 77. Motson worked on March of the Day since 1971. He covered 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships and 29 FA Cup finals for the BBC.

A statement from the Motson family read:

“It is with great sadness we announce that John Motson OBE died peacefully in his sleep today (Thursday).”

Salford born Motson, the son of a Methodist minister, began his career as a reporter on the Barnet Press and then the Sheffield Morning Telegraph. He also worked as a freelancer for BBC Radio Sheffield before joining the BBC on a full-time basis in 1968. After working as a sports reporter for Radio 2 he began on Match of the Day in 1972. He famously commentated on Hereford’s FA Cup giantkilling against Newcastle United in 1972. The fixture took top billing on Match of the Day, and pushed him into the limelight.

Motson went on to cover the majority of major finals for the BBC from 1979 until 2008. He commentated on over 2000 televised games, including more than 200 England internationals. His career also included two Olympic Games and Wimbledon’s memorable 1988 FA Cup final triumph against Liverpool at Wembley, when he provided the memorable line “the Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club.” 

Motson was also present at some of the darker moments in football. In 1989 he was at Hillsborough as the disaster unfolded at the stadium and his description of the tragic events was used on much of the news footage. He was called upon to give evidence to the coroner’s inquest into the tragedy in 1991.

He was awarded the OBE in 2001 for services to broadcasting.

Motson became an OBE in 2001 for services to sports broadcasting and received a BAFTA in 2018 for “his outstanding contribution to sports broadcasting”.

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