Legendary commentator John Motson will call time on his BBC career aged 72 after the conclusion of the current football season.
The broadcaster, popularly known as ‘Motty’, is in his 50th consecutive year with the corporation.
He covered 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships, 29 FA Cup finals and more than 200 England games.
“I’ve absolutely loved my time commentating for BBC Sport,” said Motson.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to witness some of the biggest moments in football history mere yards away from the action, so I’ve really been very lucky.”
Motson, known for his trademark sheepskin coats and encyclopaedic knowledge of the game, wants to continue his links with the sport.
“I’m hoping to keep my association with football and with broadcasting – I’m not retiring from everything, I’m retiring from the BBC,” he said.
‘Farewell tour’ for commentator
He will commentate on 18 games over the course of the Premier League season as part of a ‘farewell tour’ before a last appearance during the BBC’s FA Cup final programme in May 2018.
The announcement comes as Motson makes his return to the Match of the Day programme at Brighton v West Brom on Saturday.
Barbara Slater, BBC director of sport, said: “John Motson is a real asset to the football world and he will be sorely missed.
“It isn’t hard to see why he is so highly treasured, not just by the BBC but also by the nation, due to his instantly recognisable voice, wonderful sense of humour and his incredible dedication to the sport.
“As he moves on from commentating for BBC Sport, we wish him the best of luck for the future.”
Memorable Motson moments
“Radford again. OH WHAT A GOAL! What a goal! Radford the scorer” – The blistering strike from non-league Hereford’s Ronnie Radford that helped put Newcastle out of the FA Cup in 1972 and placed Motson on the map as a commentator.
“For those of you watching in black and white, Spurs are in the all-yellow strip” – Commentating on a Tottenham game.
“Villa…AND STILL RICKY VILLA! What a fantastic run! He’s scored!” – Ricky Villa’s winning goal for Spurs in the 1981 FA Cup final replay.
“And there it is, the Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club!” – The final whistle as Wimbledon defeated Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup final.
“This is almost fantasy football” – Norwich City go 2-0 up against Bayern Munich in the Olympic Stadium during the Canaries’ Uefa Cup run of 1993.
“Ohhh, this is getting better and better and better. One, two, three for Michael Owen!” – Owen completes his hat-trick in England’s 5-1 win over Germany in 2001.
“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!” – Zinedine Zidane’s sending off in the 2006 World Cup
Motson joined the BBC having started out as a local newspaper reporter
‘The perfectly pitched voice’
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.
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.
That run included his record-breaking sixth World Cup final in Berlin in 2006 and his 29th FA Cup final in 2008.
In 2001, he became an OBE for services to sports broadcasting.
“I thought about wearing my sheepskin, but I didn’t think it was appropriate,” said Motson, standing resplendent in morning dress.
Research by speech experts that year found Motson had the perfectly pitched voice for football commentary.
The study said he had twice the range, spoke at double the speed and could be twice as loud or soft as the average person.
He was caricatured by a virtual ‘Mini Motty’ on the BBC Sport website and topped polls asking for the nation’s favourite commentator.