John Motson: best commentary quotes, lines - and gaffes - as sheepskin coat wearing commentator dies age 77

‘Hold the cups and glasses at home... You can smash them now!’

John Motson waves to fans after a Premier League match between Everton and Crystal Palace at Goodison Park in 2018 (Photo: Steve Welsh/Getty Images)John Motson waves to fans after a Premier League match between Everton and Crystal Palace at Goodison Park in 2018 (Photo: Steve Welsh/Getty Images)
John Motson waves to fans after a Premier League match between Everton and Crystal Palace at Goodison Park in 2018 (Photo: Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

Football commentator John Motson - who enjoyed a distinguished career with the BBC, covering 29 FA Cup finals and 10 World Cups - has died at the age of 77.

An announcement on the BBC Sport website read: “Legendary commentator John Motson, who had an illustrious 50-year career with the BBC, has died aged 77.”

Motson’s commentary on Ronnie Radford’s famous long-range strike which helped non-league Hereford knock top-flight Newcastle out of the FA Cup in 1972 saw him take top billing on Match of the Day – pushing him into the spotlight and the affections of the sporting public.

Awarded the OBE in 2001 for services to broadcasting, Motson hung up his microphone for the BBC at the end of the 2017-18 Premier League season. The final game he commentated on was an Arsenal win over Watford.

Motson is responsible for soundtracking some of the most fondly remembered footballing moments in recent history - and making a few humorous on-air slip ups - so here are 29 of his best moments.

8 of Motson’s most iconic moments

  • "The Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club!” - Liverpool 0-1 Wimbledon (FA Cup final 14/5/1988)
  • "Hold the cups and glasses at home. You can smash them now! David Beckham has scored for England!" - Argentina 0-1 England (World Cup group stage 7/6/2002)
  • "Ohhh, this is getting better and better and better. One, two, three for Michael Owen!" - Germany 1-5 England (2002 World Cup qualifiers 1/11/2001)
  • “Now Tudor has gone down for Newcastle. Radford again.... what a goal! What a goal! Radford the scorer - Ronnie Radford. The crowd are invading the pitch." - Hereford United 2-1 Newcastle United (FA Cup third round 5/2/1972)
  • "Oh dear. Oh dear me. He’s [Paul Gascoigne] going to be out of the final, if England get there. Here is a moment that almost brings tears to his eyes." - West Germany 1-1 England (World Cup semi-finals 4/6/1990)
  • "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 1-1 France (World Cup final 9/7/2006)
  • “Maradona. Going at them again. Brilliant run, fantastic goal! Unbelievable!" - Argentina 2-0 Belgium (World Cup semi-final 25/6/1986)
  • "This is almost fantasy football." - Bayern Munich 1–2 Norwich City (UEFA Cup second round (19/8/1993)

And (a few) more commentary ‘gaffes’...

Of course, as much as he brought his enthusiasm and knowledge to the beautiful game, Motson also delivered some of the most unintentionally hilarious gaffes that football commentary has known, often tripping over his words and contradicting himself within the space of a sentence.

  • “He’s got the taste of Wembley in his nostrils.”
  • “And I suppose Spurs are nearer to being out of the FA Cup now than any other time since the first half of this season, when they weren’t ever in it anyway.”
  • "Whether that was a penalty or not, the referee thought otherwise."
  • “Northern Ireland are ten minutes away from their finest victory. There’s 15 minutes to go here.”
  • “It’s so different from the scenes in 1872, at the Cup Final none of us can remember.”
  • "The World Cup is a truly international event."
  • “That shot might not have been as good as it might have been.”
  • “You couldn’t count the number of moves Alan Ball made… I counted four, and possibly five.”
  • “The referee is wearing the same yellow-coloured top as the Slovakian goalkeeper. I’d have thought the UEFA official would have spotted that – but perhaps he’s been deafened by the noise of this crowd.”
  • "And Seaman, just like a falling oak, manages to change direction."
  • "For those of you watching in black and white, Spurs are in the all-yellow strip."
  • “None of the players are wearing earrings. Kjeldberg, with his contact lenses, is the closest we can get.”
  • “In a sense it’s a one-man show… except there are two men involved, Hartson and Berkovic, and a third man, the goalkeeper.”
  • “Owen scores and breaks Lineker’s competitive scoring record. Although, this being a friendly it doesn’t actually count, so he hasn’t quite done it yet.”
  • "The Brazilian supporters are wearing yellow shirts - it’s a fabulous kaleidoscope of colour."
  • "It’s Arsenal 0, Everton 1, and the longer it stays like that, the more you’ve got to fancy Everton."
  • “Just look at Keegan’s face, he’s got a look of resignation… I don’t mean, of course, about his managerial position, but rather about today’s game.”
  • “Gary Lineker has now scored 37 goals. That is precisely twice as many as last year.”
  • “The unexpected is always likely to happen.”
  • "Middlesbrough are withdrawing Maccarone the Italian, Nemeth the Slovakian, and Stockdale... the right-back."
  • “The game is balanced in Arsenal’s favour.”
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