Legendary football commentator and former St Albans resident John Motson has died at the age of 77.

Known to most as "Motty", he covered 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships, 29 FA Cup finals and was a Match of the Day regular from 1971 for BBC Sport, before retiring from the organisation in 2018.

His passing was confirmed in a statement made by his family, who said this morning: "It is with great sadness we announce that John Motson OBE died peacefully in his sleep today."

Born in Salford, Motson started his career as a reporter on the Barnet Press and Sheffield Morning Telegraph newspapers, before moving to BBC Radio Sheffield and then the BBC on a full-time basis in 1968.

His big break came in 1972 as underdogs Hereford stunned Newcastle United in the FA Cup, with Motson's capturing all the drama as the game was bumped to the top of the Match of the Day bill.

Known for his trademark sheepskin coats and seemingly endless knowledge of the game, he commentated on almost 2,500 televised games across an enduring 50-year career.

Herts Advertiser: Motson commentated on almost 2,500 televised games.Motson commentated on almost 2,500 televised games. (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

John Motson's iconic commentary lines:

  • "The Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club.” - Liverpool 0-1 Wimbledon, 1988 FA Cup Final
  • "Oh dear. Oh dear me. He’s going to be out of the final, if England get there. Here is a moment that almost brings tears to his eyes." - on Paul Gascoigne's booking in the 1990 World Cup semi-final against West Germany
  • "Hold the cups and glasses at home. You can smash them now! David Beckham has scored for England!" - Argentina 0-1 England, 2002 World Cup
  • "Oh brilliant! Oh yes! Oh yes!" - on Paul Gascoigne's goal against Scotland at Euro '96

Paying tribute to Motson, BBC director-general Tim Davie said: "John Motson was the voice of a footballing generation - steering us through the twists and turns of FA Cup runs, the highs and lows of World Cups and, of course, Saturday nights on Match of the Day.

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"Like all the greats behind the mic, John had the right words, at the right time, for all the big moments."

Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker said he was "deeply saddened" by Motson's passing, adding: "A quite brilliant commentator and the voice of football in this country for generations. He'll be very much missed."

Herts Advertiser: Motson commentated on 20 World Cup and European Championship finals.Motson commentated on 20 World Cup and European Championship finals. (Image: PA)

Fellow commentator Clive Tyldesley, who worked alongside Motson at the BBC in the 1990s, said: "As a teenager I just wanted to be John Motson. Nobody else. Terribly sad."

Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler told BBC Radio 5 Live: "John was the standard-setter for us all. We basically all looked up to him - his diligence, his dedication, his knowledge. He was a very serious broadcaster but he was a real fun guy to be around."

Motson lived in St Albans in the 1980s, and is survived by his wife Anne and son Frederick.