John, fondly known as “Motty” began his career in the newspaper business as a reporter on the Barnet Press and the Sheffield Morning Telegraph, where he first covered football. It began to take off when the BBC hired him in 1968 as a sports presenter on Radio 2. Three years later, he replaced Kenneth Wolstenholme at Match of the Day.
Since 1979 Motson has commentated on all the major championships: World Cups, FA Cups, and European Championships. Most recently, he was commentator for the 2008 European Championships Final. He was commentating on the FA Cup Semi-final of 1989 between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest when the Hillsborough Disaster occurred.
Motson has been the dominant football commentary figure at the BBC since the late 1970s. His first FA Cup Final as commentator was 1977 in the match between Manchester United and Liverpool.
Motson’s popularity has extended to the Internet, where BBC Sport Online created a Mini Motty “desktop toy” to keep fans up to date on action in the Premiership, FA Cup, and other leagues throughout England and Scotland.
In 1996, Motson published a book entitled Motty’s Diary: A Year In The Life Of A Commentator. Two years later, BBC One gave him his own TV programme, entitled The Full Motty.
Motson and other ex-professionals lent their voices to Canadian video game developer EA Sports as English-language commentators for its popular FIFA series.
When the Premier League television highlights moved to ITV in 2001, and MOTD was no longer a weekly fixture in the schedules, Motson returned to radio on BBC Radio Five Live’s coverage of the Premiership, but continued to make frequent appearances on live TV coverage and contributions to BBC Sport’s website – which he has been doing since the site was launched in July 2000.
Motson traveled to South Africa as part of the BBC team for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, occasionally appearing on the Match of the Day highlights show, as well providing reports on the BBC website.
Motson has been increasingly used as a commentator on BBC Radio 5 Live since BBC TV’s loss of live football coverage, often commentating live on a wider range of games – international, Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League.
One of the most respected figures in broadcasting history, John Motson is in demand as an after dinner speaker and event host.