John Motson, a legendary commentator with the BBC for 50 years, has passed away at 77.
One of the world’s most successful sports commentators, Motson covered 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships, and 29 FA Cup finals for BBC Sport before retiring in 2018.
Popularly known as ‘Motty,’ he had worked on Match of the Day since 1971.
“It is with great sadness we announce that John Motson OBE died peacefully in his sleep today,” said a statement from Motson’s family on Thursday.
BBC’s director-general Tim Davie has mourned Motson as one of the greatest voices of our time.
“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.”
The son of a Methodist minister, Motson had stints as a reporter on the Barnet Press and Sheffield Morning Telegraph newspapers at the start of his career.
He also worked as a freelancer for BBC Radio Sheffield before joining the BBC full-time in 1968.
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker said he was “deeply saddened” by news of Motson’s passing.
He added: “A quite brilliant commentator and the voice of football in this country for generations. He’ll be very much missed.”
The English Football League described Motson as “a defining and legendary voice of English football.”
It awarded him the Contribution to League Football Award in 2018, an annual honour given to an individual who has given a lifetime’s service to the professional game on and off the pitch.
The Football Supporters’ Association said: “John was awarded a lifetime achievement award by supporters at our awards ceremony in 2017 – John was a gent that night, and it was a pleasure to have him along.”
“An absolute legend of the game. So many of us grew up listening to this man describe the action and goals of MOTD and cup finals. A sad loss,” said former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher, a Sky Sports pundit.
Premier League leaders Arsenal paid tribute to Motson: “One of the greatest commentators of his generation, he was synonymous with so many of the beautiful game’s most incredible moments.”
Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish said: “A lovely man who came to many games with us long after he had ‘retired.’
“He was one of the greats, his words perfectly punctuating so many incredible occasions.”
Rishi Sunak also paid tribute. “He was a legend of the game,” the prime minister said. “He was the voice of football for millions of people across the country. He will be deeply missed by fans and the entirety of the football community.”
The late Motson is survived by his wife, Anne, and son Frederick.