British soccer commentator John Motson has passed away at the age of 77. The legendary voice of the sport called more than 2,500 matches in his 50 years at BBC. Because of his extensive work, Motson became one of the most recognizable voices in English soccer.

The Motson family released a short statement on the unfortunate news. “It is with great sadness that we announce that John Motson OBE died peacefully in his sleep today.”

Martin Tyler labels Motson an icon in the sport

Fellow legendary commentator Martin Tyler also shared his thoughts on Motson. “He was a standard setter for us all. He was a very serious broadcaster but he was a really fun guy to be around,” Tyler said on BBC Radio 5 Live. “He had a great sense of humor. Just a few days after Dickie Davies left us, broadcasting has taken two very big hits. [Motson] was an icon and a beacon to us all.”

Motson, typically referred to as “Motty,” began his illustrious career in 1968 when he joined BBC as a presenter. He called his first soccer match a year later when Everton faced off against Derby County in December of 1969. Motson quickly became a mainstay in BBC’s Match of the Day program, first appearing in 1971.

Huge Hereford upset helped push his career to new heights

In the FA Cup game between Newcastle and Hereford in 1972, it essentially gave Motson his start as a top commentator. Despite being heavy underdogs, Hereford United won the match with Motson in the gantry.

Motson’s call on the equalizing goal from Ronnie Radford helped propel the commentator up the ladder. “Oh what a goal! Radford the scorer. Ronnie Radford! And the crowd are on the pitch. What a tremendous shot by Ronnie Radford,” exclaimed Motson. The quality call forced BBC execs to offer Motson a new contract and allow him to commentate on high-profile matches.

In all, Motson called 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships, and 29 FA Cup finals for the network during his career.

His last match inside the booth was a 2-0 victory for Crystal Palace over West Bromwich Albion. After the game, Motson received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Meanwhile, soccer commentator Ian Darke had this to say about Motson. “[He was] probably the most famous football commentator of them all. Meticulously researched and retaining boyish enthusiasm and love of the game over half a century of the biggest games, he set the gold standard.”

The commentator retired from BBC in 2018.

Photo: IMAGO / PA Images