England’s spin king Monty Panesar, alumnus of St Mary’s University, Twickenham, and now a columnist, pays tribute to John Motson, whose death was announced yesterday.

John Motson, the voice of British football, has died at the age of 77.

During a remarkable career, he provided the soundtrack to some of British football’s greatest ups and downs, commentating on over 2,000 matches and 10 World Cups.

Fans who grew up listening to him from the 1970s to the explosion of the English game in the Premier League era will miss ‘Motty’ sorely.

He was the lead vocal on Match of the Day and was beloved by generations who loved his humor and succession of shearling coats, which became something of a trademark.

Although he mingled with the greats of the British game and was welcomed in the halls of the country’s wealthiest clubs, he was a particular fan of grassroots football and his beloved Barnet team.

Motty, who started working for the BBC in the mid-1960s, was married to his wife Annie for 45 years and the couple had a son, Fred.

After a spell with the BBC in Sheffield, he joined Match of the Day in 1971 and became a regular commentator during the 1971-21 season.

During his trial spell with the BBC, the FA cup clash between Hereford and Newcastle changed his life forever.

Speaking of that giant-slaying, he said: “That year I was on trial at the BBC. I didn’t have a contract at that stage. I had been on radio and they took me on loan for a year.”

“If Newcastle had won it, the game would have been broadcast for about three minutes in Match of the Day. When Ricky George scored the winner after extra time, the game was propelled to the top of the running order and we had a huge audience. of 10 million”.

It was that moment of being in the right place at the right time as talent only takes you so far. It was definitely that moment with the BBC where the young Matson was able to handle the big stage.

Famous for his common touch, Motty attended boarding school near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, where he obtained an O Level in Latin. It was a school where rugby, cricket and hockey took center stage. He once was arrested for playing soccer on the ground.

He took his first steps in journalism with Barnet Press as a junior reporter. It was with the Daily Sheffield Morning Telegraph that he had the chance to test himself behind the microphone.

His editor at the time said, “I really think you should try the voice world instead of the written world.” It wasn’t a setback for Motson, who took full advantage of his newfound ability.”

He went on to cover two Olympic Games in 1972 and 1976. He always had a unique vision of the beautiful game of soccer and was recognized for the many hours of diligent research he put into it.

His famous quote “This just keeps getting better and better” after England won 5-1 against Germany during the 2002 World Cup qualifier was echoed with delight by England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

After commentating on his last game during the 2017/2018 season, he was awarded a BAFTA Special Award and subsequently an OBE, recognizing a distinguished career in broadcasting. As a nation, we will miss his iconic voice, his unique vision, and most of all, the joy of his commentary.


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