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Football commentator John Motson shares career highlights

By James Pugh | Featured articles | Published:

He is one of Britain's best-known football commentators and has covered an impressive 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships, 29 FA Cup finals and more than 200 England games.

John Motson

At the end of the season John Motson will call time on his BBC career aged 72 after the conclusion of the current football season.

He is due to share his experiences and highlights of his illustrious career in Market Drayton on Tuesday.

The broadcaster, popularly known as 'Motty', is in his 50th consecutive year with the BBC.

Between 1979 and 2008, he was the BBC's voice on major cup finals including his record-breaking sixth World Cup Final in Berlin in 2006 and his 29th FA Cup Final in May 2008, an achievement not reached by any other commentator.

John Motson

"I have had a rather long career and have been very lucky to be paid to do something I love and that is watching football," he said.

"I love doing radio and TV commentary as well as being involved in Match of the Day and Football Focus.

"Among my highlights are commentating on World Cups. I have been lucky enough to have been to 10.

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"One of the best games I commentated on was when England beat Germany 5-1 in 2001 when Michael Owen scored a hat-trick.

"I have been lucky enough to cover more than 200 England games in 49 countries and saw the world through football.

"Some of the matches that are least memorable are the one-nils or nil-nils when you have to think of something to say, keep it alive and bring interest to the viewer."

The son of a Methodist minister, Motson joined the BBC in 1968, following stints as a reporter on the Barnet Press and Sheffield Morning Telegraph.

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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 billed as a five-minute segment, Hereford's shock 2-1 win – thanks to Ronnie Radford's 30-yard strike – saw the match promoted to the main game, with Motson capturing all the drama.

Despite rivalry with Barry Davies, from 1979 to 2008 Motson was the BBC's voice on major finals such as the FA Cup, European Championships and World Cup.

"The game has massively changed over the years, especially commercially," he said.

"Years ago the stadiums were not as good and the game was more simple for commentators when you only had things like one sub.

"The game is a lot more glamorous now. The Premier League has gone global.

"There are a lot of overseas players and owners. I think on balance it has improved the game.

John Motson

"Players are more athletic, more fitter than they used to be. You have had managers like Arsene Wenger bring in nutritionists. Before there was just a manager, trainer and coach."

On England, Motson said he was optimistic about the future following the under-17s and under-20s success in the World Cup this year.

"One of my biggest regrets is never covering England in a championship final," he said.

"But our young teams have done very well this year and if we can keep them together, bring them through and make sure they play first team football then it would seem England has a bright a future as I can remember.

"The St George's Park project has got everyone playing in the same way."

As retirement looms, Motson will be able to look back on a career which has seen him pick up a host of accolades, including being awarded the OBE for services to sports broadcasting in HM The Queen's Birthday Honours List in 2001.

He was also voted Commentator of the Year by the Royal Television Society in 2004, by Four Four Two in 2005 and by FHM and Zoo in 2006.

He said: "I don't want to think about retirement. As a commentator all you want to do is concentrate on the next match.

"But I am hoping to do more public speaking like I am doing in Market Drayton."

Motson will appear at the Festival Drayton Centre in Market Drayton on Tuesday at 7.30pm.

"I will obviously be talking about my career and taking a look behind the scenes. There will be a few funny stories, few anecdotes and stupid things I have said," he added.

James Pugh

By James Pugh
@JamesP_Star

Chief reporter at the Shropshire Star covering north Shropshire based at the head office in Ketley.

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