Long-serving football commentator John Motson will end his 50-year association with the BBC when he leaves the broadcaster at the end of the season.
The 72-year-old, a veteran of 10 World Cups and more than 200 England matches, will call time on an eventful BBC career behind the microphone after a “farewell tour” of 18 Premier League matches this season and an appearance in the television station’s FA Cup final programme.
For two generations Motson was the voice of football for many but he has decided to call it a day before he thinks he is past it.
“I just thought my 50th year in the BBC is 2018 and it has to end some time and I thought that would be a good note to go out,” he told Press Association Sport.
“I also don’t want to go into the area where people say ‘He’s been there too long’, ‘He’s lost it’, ‘He’s not what he was’.
“I wanted to go out while I was still commentating as well – or as badly – as I have for all those years.
“I didn’t want to carry on and then people say ‘Oh dear me, we’ll have to get rid of him’.”
With over 2,000 matches under his belt Motson admits it is impossible to list his highlights, merely grouping them into World Cups (10), European Championships (10) and FA Cup finals (29).
“I’ve done six World Cup finals and I’m very proud of that record because I think (Kenneth) Wolstenholme only did five of those,” he added.
“The FA Cup as a tournament was very good to me and I’d like to think I can still have some association with that because it was the Ronnie Radford goal for Hereford against Newcastle which really put me on the map in 1972.
“All that has been bubbling in my mind and I’ve been thinking ‘Why not leave on a high note’.
“I might feel a little bit empty and it might get to me for a short time but I’m hoping to keep my association with football and with broadcasting – I’m not retiring from everything, I’m retiring from the BBC.
“I’m certainly not going pipe and slippers.”
While Motson’s football CV is huge there remains one gaping hole, through no fault of his own, and that is the Champions League.
BBC budgets never extended to being involved in the race for the rights for Europe’s elite competition so Motson never had the opportunity.
But if he could have called one game he has no doubts which one it would have been.
“My opposite number at ITV Clive Tyldesley did Manchester United winning the Champions League (in 1999) with two goals in the last minute,” he said.
“I was proud of the way he did it but I would have loved to have done it myself, although I wouldn’t have done it as well as he did.
“The way the contracts have worked meant I’ve never done a Champions League match.
“I’ve never had the opportunity because it has always been a Sky or ITV event but that is the one I’d have liked to have done.”
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