Commentators share tributes for Motson after legend dies aged 77

‘He is a national treasure. I wanted to be John Motson’: Clive Tyldesley leads his fellow commentators in paying tribute to his ‘personal friend’ Motty, after legendary commentator’s death

  • John Motson has passed away at the age of 77, it was announced on Thursday
  • Tributes from fellow commentators have flooded in following the news
  • LIVE: The sporting world reacts to the death of commentator John Motson

Clive Tyldesley has led his fellow commentators in paying tribute to John Motson, following his death at the age of 77 on Thursday.

Motson was synonymous with the BBC – where he commentated on over 2,000 matches on television and radio. His commentary portfolio included 29 FA Cup finals, 10 World Cups and 10 European Championships.

Confirming the news on social media, the BBC said: ‘John Motson, the voice of the BBC’s football coverage across 50 years, has died aged 77.’ 

Almost immediately after the news broke, a number of prominent commentators took to social media to write a tribute to Motson and appreciate the legacy he left behind.

ITV’s former senior commentator Tyldesley paid tribute to his friend on BBC. He said: ‘Well as a sixth former, I wanted to be John Motson, or at least I wanted his job.

John Motson, who was synonymous for his iconic commentaries and sheepskin coat, has died 

Clive Tyldesley (pictured)  has led his fellow commentators in paying tribute to Motson

‘I was fortunate enough to get my break not too many years after that. Even more fortunate for John to become a personal friend. But he has probably influenced me more than any other commentator that I listen to, both in the way that I prepare for games and in the way that I commentate.

‘And he is quite simply a national treasure. He is part of that venerable list: Peter O’Sullevan, Bill McLaren, Dan Maskell, Brian Johnston, Henry Longhurst, John Arlott. 

‘He, certainly along with Barry Davies and Brian Moore, was one of the three voices of football, as far as I’m concerned. And there will never be a voice of football again – there is too much football on television, too many commentators for anybody to have that hold and that relationship with his audience that John had.’

He also honoured Motson on social media, writing: ‘As a teenager I just wanted to be John Motson. Nobody else. Terribly sad.’ 

BT Sport’s Ian Darke said: ‘Very sad to hear of the passing of John Motson. Probably the most famous football commentator of them all. Meticulously researched and retaining boyish enthusiasm and love of the game over half a century of the biggest games , he set the gold standard.’

Darke’s colleague, Darren Fletcher, posted: This is such sad news – an iconic commentator with his own distinctive and brilliant style. The soundtrack to my youth watching football #RIPMotty’.

‘In shock. Thank you JM’, said BBC Sport and BT Sport commentator Guy Mowbray.

Match of the Day commentator Steve Wilson wrote: ‘Shocked at the sad news about Motty. He was so generous when I joined BBC TV with contacts and advice. I will always be grateful. He will be sadly missed. Thoughts are with his family.’

During a lengthy phone call on Sky Sports, iconic commentator Martin Tyler said: ‘I’m shocked to hear the news to be honest with you. I didn’t know that John had been ill. I’m finding out now that he had been ill a little bit over the last year or so. Hadn’t seen him so much since he disappeared from the gantry. 

‘But I saw, I don’t know, 45 years of him on the gantry. He was somebody I admired, in terms of the profession, enormously. His preparation was second to none, his attention to detail, his wish to know everything possible about the game he was about to broadcast. 

‘He was a real example to me. Before my very first TV game, back in 1974, he sent me a telegram. It said: ‘Talk little but say a lot’. I think that summed up John really. He was economical with his words. When he spoke, it had great resonance. 

Tributes flooded in from a number of commentators after news of Motson’s death broke


  • Legendary football commentator John Motson dies aged 77, as sport mourns sheepskin coat-wearing icon who voiced 2,000 games including 29 FA Cup finals and 10 World Cups
  • ‘An absolute LEGEND and gentleman’: Tributes pile in for iconic commentator John Motson
  • ‘Forever grateful… RIP Motty’: Ian Dennis pays tribute to John Motson and reposts ‘pertinent’ letter the commentator had written him when he was 17 years old
  • From Ronnie Radford to David Beckham via Gazza’s tears and the Crazy Gang beating the Culture Club: Motson’s greatest commentary moments 
  • John Motson tributes LIVE: Gary Lineker leads the way as the sporting world reacts to the death of legendary football commentator


‘He helped a lot of people as well. He certainly encouraged me at the beginning. We virtually went round the world together – when I was at ITV and he was with the Beeb [BBC]. 

‘A friend but a rival in a way as well, but full of admiration for him. My deepest sympathies to Anne and Freddie and the rest of the family at such a sudden loss.’

Motson was married to wife Anne for 45 years – with the couple having tied the knot in 1977. They have one son together called Fred, who was born in 1986. 

‘Motty’, as he was known to his millions of fans, commentated on more than 2,000 games on TV and radio including 29 FA Cup finals, 10 World Cups and 10 European Championships for the BBC.

The broadcaster, a mainstay of Match of the Day for 46 years, was beloved by generations of football supporters who are mourning his death today. 

Motson pictured with his wife Anne – the pair had been married since 1977 and have one child

Motson was the commentator on the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough. He later went on to give evidence at the inquest.

Selhurst Park was the venue for his last Match of the Day commentary, as the 2017/2018 Premier League season drew to a close with Crystal Palace beating West Brom.

Afterwards, Motson went on to collect the Special Award by BAFTA, back at the Royal Albert Hall, in recognition of his distinguished career in broadcasting – which was swiftly dedicated to all at the BBC sports department who had helped him along the way.

Motson would also cover two Olympic Games – in 1972 and 1976, commenting on Greco-Roman wrestling – as well as sitting alongside Muhammad Ali at the Albert Hall in December 1974. 

As well as fellow commentators writing tributes for the legendary broadcaster, there were a number of ex-players who penned a message in Motson’s honour.

John Motson poses with his Special Award in the press room during the Virgin TV British Academy Television Awards at The Royal Festival Hall on May 13, 2018

Lineker, who has long been the face of BBC’s Match of the Day, said in a tribute: ‘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.’

Ex-Liverpool and England star Carragher tweeted: ‘RIP John Motson. An absolute Legend of the game. So many of us grew up listening to this man describe the action & goals on MOTD & cup finals. Sad loss.’

Meanwhile, Manchester United legend Neville, who alongside Carragher regularly commentates on Sky Sports, simply wrote ‘RIP John Motson’ with a love heart emoji.

‘We will miss John Motson. His voice will always be ringing in our ears,’ Football Focus presenter Dan Walker posted on Twitter, summing up the sentiments of the nation. 


Ricky Villa goalTottenham 3-2 Manchester City, 1981 replay

‘One of the most iconic cup moments I commentated on,’ Motson says. Few would argue against it being one of the greatest-ever goals in a final as Villa jinked his way through the City defence to win the competition for Spurs.

Steven Gerrard’s equaliserLiverpool 3-3 West Ham, 2006

Liverpool were heading for defeat until Gerrard, their captain marvel, popped up with a screamer from distance to send the match to extra-time before the Reds triumphed on penalties.

Keith Houchen’s diving header – Spurs 2-3 Coventry, 1987

This goal is described as one of the greatest goals in one of the greatest finals. With Coventry trailing 2-1, Houchen flew through the air and headed the ball home to equalise and his side then triumphed in extra time.

Trevor Brooking’s winner – West Ham 1-0 Arsenal, 1980

Brooking was the fastest to react as he turned in a Stuart Pearson strike that had flown across goal in the 13th minute. West Ham held on to win the FA Cup for the third time.

Motty’s first cup final as a commentator – Liverpool 1-2 Man United, 1977

All of the goals in this titanic clash between the two arch-rivals came within four minutes in the second half. Jimmy Greenhoff scored the winner for United.

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