John Motson to retire from BBC after 50 years as commentator


Long-serving football commentator John Motson has announced that he will bring his 50-year career with the BBC to an end of the current season.

A veteran of 10 World Cups and more than 200 England games, the 72-year-old, affectionately known as Motty, will call time on his eventful career behind the microphone after a ‘farewell tour’ commentating on 18 Premier League matches over the course of the Premier League season.

He will then make one last appearance on-screen during the BBC’s FA Cup final coverage in May.

The announcement comes as Motson makes his return to Match of the Day on Saturday, 9 September, when he will be behind the microphone for Brighton’s home match against West Bromwich Albion this weekend. He has been commentating for the iconic BBC football programme since 1971.

Commenting on his retirement from the BBC after 50 years, Motson said:

“I’ve absolutely loved my time commentating for BBC Sport and I’ve been fortunate enough to witness some of the biggest moments in football history mere yards away from the action, so I’ve really been very lucky.”

“I just thought my 50th year in the BBC is 2018 and it has to end some time and I thought that would be a good note to go out. I also don’t want to go into the area where people say ‘He’s been there too long,’ ‘He’s lost it,’ ‘He’s not what he was.’

“I wanted to go out while I was still commentating as well — or as badly — as I have for all those years. I didn’t want to carry on and then people say ‘Oh dear me, we’ll have to get rid of him.'”

Known for his trademark sheepskin coats as well as his encyclopaedic knowledge of football, Motson says he also intends to continue his links with the game following his retirement from the corporation.

“I might feel a little bit empty and it might get to me for a short time but I’m hoping to keep my association with football and with broadcasting — I’m not retiring from everything, I’m retiring from the BBC. I’m certainly not going pipe and slippers.”

Motson’s fifty consecutive years with the BBC have seen him cover a total of 10 World Cups, 29 FA Cup finals and 10 European Championships.

After starting out as a sports reporter on Radio 2 in 1968, Motson made his first major breakthrough on Match of the Day during the iconic FA Cup replay between Hereford and Newcastle four years later.

Originally billed as a five-minute segment, Hereford’s shock 2-1 win – thanks to Ronnie Radford’s famous 30-yard strike – saw the match promoted to the main game with John providing an extraordinary commentary that put him firmly on the map.

From 1979 to 2008 he was the BBC’s voice on major cup finals such as the FA Cup, European Championships and World Cup.

That run included his record-breaking sixth World Cup final in Berlin in 2006 and his 29th FA Cup final in 2008, an achievement not matched by any other commentator.

Before he leaves Match of the Day at the end of the season, Motson will embark on a ‘farewell tour’, commentating at eighteen different Premier League grounds.

Barbara Slater, BBC Director of Sport, said: “John Motson is a real asset to the football world and he will be sorely missed.

“It isn’t hard to see why he is so highly treasured, not just by the BBC but also by the nation, due to his instantly recognisable voice, wonderful sense of humour and his incredible dedication to the sport.”

“As he moves on from commentating for BBC Sport, we wish him the best of luck for the future.”


“Radford again. OH WHAT A GOAL! What a goal! Radford the scorer”
Hereford v Newcastle – FA Cup 3rd Round 1972

“For those of you watching in black and white, Spurs are in the all-yellow strip”

“Villa…AND STILL RICKY VILLA! What a fantastic run! He’s scored!”
Tottenham v Manchester City – FA Cup Final Replay 1981

“And there it is, the Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club!”
Wimbledon v Liverpool – FA Cup Final 1988

“This is almost fantasy football”
Bayern Munich v Norwich City – UEFA Cup 1993

“Ohhh, this is getting better and better and better. One, two, three for Michael Owen!”
Germany v England – World Cup Qualifier, September 2001

“Here’s Gascoigne. Oh brilliant…Oh yes!..Oh yes!”
Scotland v England – Euro 96

“And the referee has gone across now with his hand in his pocket. He’s been told about it. He’s off, it’s red, it’s Zidane! You can’t excuse that – Zidane’s career ends in disgrace!”
Italy v France – World Cup Final 2006

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