The young Motson struggled to stand out on the regimented BBC, but a shock FA Cup victory helped propel him to recognition. In February 1972, Hereford United stunned Newcastle thanks to a Ronnie Radford goal, leading Motson to bellow ‘’Oh, what a goal! Radford the scorer. Ronnie Radford! And the crowd are on their feet!’’
Motson later said that the shocking upset helped him get noticed by the BBC’s higher-ups, and the announcer would later be signed on a three-year deal.
The 77-year-old commentated on more than 2,500 football games across 5 decades, becoming known by several generations of football fans. Older viewers may remember his work on the FA Cup finals of yesteryear, whilst newer fans may have first been introduced to Motson at the FIFA World Cup.
2006 FA Cup Final
One of the finest games Motty ever commentated on was the 2006 FA Cup Final - where Motson famously exclaimed ‘’it’s surely the greatest final of modern times!’’ after Steven Gerrard’s 30-yard strike in injury-time. Though the game has since been referred to as the ‘Gerrard Final’, we can’t underestimate just how important John Motson was in making the game so iconic.
The legend was also in the commentary booth when a young Ronaldinho lofted a free-kick over the stunned David Seaman at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Though he was present at 10 editions of the tournament, it’s a crying shame that Motson never once got the chance to commentate on his country winning a major final.
The 2008 FA Cup Final between Portsmouth and Cardiff was Motson’s 29th and final. He remained a fixture on Match of the Day highlights, but his output decreased as he reached a deserved retirement. John Motson may be gone, but his stellar work as the premier football commentator will forever immortalise him.
Football fans can rarely settle on things - but one thing we’re all in unanimous agreement on is that John Motson made the beautiful game that little bit more special. He’ll be missed, and his shoes will never be filled.
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