John Motson: The legendary commentator was a ‘remarkable’ character, says former England captain Gary Lineker

Legendary commentator John Motson was “the voice of football” who “always understood the mood and the right occasion”, says former England captain Gary Lineker.

Motson, who had an illustrious 50-year career with the BBC, he died aged 77.

“Motty was a remarkable character and a remarkable commentator,” said Lineker, speaking to the PM on BBC Radio 4.

The host of Jogo do Dia added: “He always shot well, hit the big goals. It’s a sad day for football.”

Motson commented on Lineker’s draw against West Germany in the 1990 World Cup semi-final in Turin, Italy. England lost the match on penalties.

“I’ve heard and seen (Motson’s comment) hundreds and hundreds of times and he nailed it,” Lineker said.

“He was the voice of our sport for nearly 50 years. He lived and breathed football.

“He was almost an anorak, if you like, and I think you have to be a bit to be a commentator of his ilk.

“He covered Romania when all the players dyed their hair blonde (at the 1998 World Cup). It was almost impossible to tell one football player from another, but somehow he managed.”

‘A legend whose record is without comparison’

Football Association President Prince William was among many who also paid tribute to Motson, who covered 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships and 29 FA Cup Finals for BBC Sport before retiring from the organization in 2018.

“Very saddened to hear of the passing of John Motson – a legend whose voice was football,” he said. “My thoughts are with your family and friends.”

Commentator Clive Tyldesley, who worked alongside Motson at the BBC in the 1990s, said: “I lost a friend in the first place, but such was John Motson’s range, such was the distinctive nature of his voice and his style of commentary, that I think many thousands of people who never met him will feel as if they too have lost a friend.

“What I can tell people is if they felt that way about John, this was the real John. There was no facade.”

Motson – known for his sheepskin coats – made his Match of the Day debut during the famous FA Cup replay between Hereford and Newcastle in 1972.

Originally billed as a five-minute segment, Hereford’s surprise 2-1 victory – with Ronnie Radford’s famous 30-yard strike – saw the match promoted to the main game, with Motson capturing all the drama.

Former BBC commentator Barry Davies, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, said: “John was excited about the game and everything about the game.

“Years later, he said that if Radford’s shot had gone off the post, he probably wouldn’t have gotten the job he did.

“We used to laugh about the sheepskin coat because I once told him, ‘I was wearing a sheepskin coat before you came along, but you got a better deal than me.’

“His record is unrivaled. I don’t think his record will ever be surpassed.”

Everton manager Sean Dyche also paid tribute to Motson at his pre-match press conference on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s game with Aston Villa.

“It’s a sad loss,” Dyche said. “He was a legend.

“When you met him a few times, like me, he was an important guy too.”

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