Motson, who worked for the BBC for 50 years, before retiring in 2018 covered 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships and 29 FA Cup Finals.
Born in Salford, Lancashire, he started as a newspaper reporter in Barnet and at the Sheffield Morning Telegraph. Motson, known as ‘Motty’, joined the BBC in 1968 as a sports presenter on Radio 2.
Motson’s commentary on Ronnie Radford’s famous long-range strike which helped non-league Hereford knock top-flight Newcastle out of the FA Cup in 1972 saw him take top billing on Match of the Day – pushing him into the spotlight and the affections of the sporting public.
His long career also took in two Olympic Games and Wimbledon’s memorable 1988 FA Cup final triumph against Liverpool at Wembley as the Crazy Gang beat the Culture Club.
Awarded the OBE in 2001 for services to broadcasting, Motson hung up his microphone for the BBC at the end of the 2017-18 Premier League season.
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.
“Like all the greats behind the mic, John had the right words, at the right time, for all the big moments.
“He will rightly be remembered as a legendary figure in British sports broadcasting, respected by those in the game, loved by fans and an inspiration to those who followed him in the commentary box.”
Writing on Twitter, ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley said: “As a teenager I just wanted to be John Motson. Nobody else. Terribly sad.”
Gary Lineker, the former England striker and presenter of Match of the Day, tweeted: “Deeply saddened to hear that John Motson has died. A quite brilliant commentator and the voice of football in this country for generations. He’ll be very much missed. RIP Motty.”
Fellow commentator Martin Tyler told BBC Radio 5 Live: “He was a standard setter for us all.
“He was a very serious broadcaster but he was a really fun guy to be around. He had a great sense of humour.
“Just a few days after Dickie Davies left us, broadcasting has taken two very big hits.
“He was an icon and a beacon to us all.”