British soccer commentator John Motson has died aged 77, his family announced in a statement on today (February 23).
Popularly known as ‘Motty’, Motson started working on the BBC’s flagship soccer highlights show Match of the Day in 1971.
He went on to cover 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships and 29 FA Cup finals for the channel before retiring from the organisation in 2018.
“It is with great sadness we announce that John Motson OBE died peacefully in his sleep today (Thursday),” said a statement from Motson’s family.
Motson became an OBE in 2001 for services to sports broadcasting and was made famous for his trademark sheepskin coats, delivering his final BBC commentary back in 2018 when Crystal Palace faced West Bromwich Albion.
Among those who paid tribute was Prince William, the heir to the throne and president of the English Football Association.
“Very sad to hear about the passing of John Motson – a legend whose voice was football,” William said in a personal message posted on Twitter.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair echoed that description of the commentator.
“People are often described as legends in their field. Usually it’s an exaggeration. But John Motson was a legend. Lovely guy, obsessed with the minutiae of football, great fun and an absolutely brilliant commentator…”
Former England striker and current Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker said he was deeply saddened by the news.
“A quite brilliant commentator and the voice of football in this country for generations. He’ll be very much missed,” he said on Twitter.
Motson joined the BBC on a full-time basis as a sports presenter on Radio 2 in 1968, having been at BBC Radio Sheffield beforehand.
“10 World Cups, 10 European Championships and 29 FA Cup finals. John Motson was an ever present fixture in so many of our lives. He will be sorely missed,” British minister for culture, media and sport, Lucy Frazer, said on Twitter.