Legendary commentator John Motson, who had an illustrious 50-year career at the BBC, has died aged 77.
Motson covered 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships and 29 FA Cup finals for BBC Sport before stepping down from the organization in 2018.
Popularly known as “Motty”, he had worked 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),” a statement from Motson’s family said.
He is survived by his wife Anne and his son Frederick.
“John Motson was the voice of a generation of footballers – guiding us through the twists and turns of FA Cup races, the ups and downs of World Cups and, of course, Saturday nights on the match of the day”, said BBC Director General Tim Davie.
“Like all the greats behind the mic, John had the right words, at the right time, for all the great moments.”
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker said he was “deeply saddened” by the news of Motson’s passing.
He added: “A pretty brilliant commentator and the voice of football in this country for generations. He will be greatly missed.”
The son of a Methodist minister, Motson worked as a journalist for Barnet Press and Sheffield Morning Telegraph early in his career.
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 on Radio 2, he made his breakthrough on Match of the Day during the famous FA Cup replay between Hereford and Newcastle four years later.
Originally presented as a five-minute segment, Hereford’s shock 2-1 win – featuring Ronnie Radford’s famous 30-yard strike – saw the game promoted to the main game, with Motson capturing all the drama.
For most of the period from 1979 to 2008, Motson – known for his sheepskin coats and encyclopedic knowledge of the game – was the voice of the BBC at major finals such as the FA Cup, Premier League Europe and the World Cup.
That run included his record sixth World Cup final in Berlin in 2006 and his 29th FA Cup final in 2008.
He has also covered over 200 England matches and commentated on almost 2,500 televised matches.
His last match for the Match of the Day was between Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion in 2018.
He was invited onto the pitch after being full-time and cheered on by fans before Palace manager Roy Hodgson presented him with a framed copy of the schedule from his first and last games at Selhurst Park and a crystal microphone .
He returned to work for a stint at Talksport and also provided voice overs for some football computer games.
Motson became an OBE in 2001 for Sports Broadcasting Services.
He was also honored at the British Academy Film and Television Awards (Bafta) in 2018 for his “outstanding contribution to sports broadcasting”.
“He was a legendary figure in the commentary box and will be sorely missed. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family,” said BBC pundit Chris Sutton.
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.”