Was John Motson sick? His secret illness

By Chege Karomo — ON Feb 24, 2023
John Motson
Michael Regan/Getty Images

John Motson, the English commentator who lent his voice to thousands of games, died in late February 2022 aged 77. Motson retired after an illustrious five-decade career, inspiring generations of commentators across all sports.

John Motson was sick, but the nature of his illness remains a mystery

John Motson secretly struggled with illness during the last year of his life. In a piece on Sky Sports celebrating Motson, commentator Martin Tyler wrote:

“I was very shocked to hear the news. I didn’t know John had been ill and I’m finding out now that he had been a little bit ill over the past year or so. I hadn’t seen him so much since he disappeared from the gantry, but I saw 45 years of him on the gantry!”

It’s unclear whether the illness was related to Motson’s cancer diagnosis. In 2014, doctors diagnosed Motson with bowel cancer, forcing him to miss the World Cup. Motson revealed that he beat the disease:

“I consider myself very lucky I was diagnosed so early that the cancer was dealt with and the positiveness came about because I wanted to get back into my normal life. That drive and determination was probably the most positive thing I could’ve had.”