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Legendary 'voice of sport' David Coleman dies aged 87

Sports commentator who worked at the BBC for almost 50 years covering some of the biggest sporting events of the 20th Century passes away after a short illness

Published: Saturday, 21st December 2013 at 2:02 pm

David Coleman, one of the best-known sporting commentators in British broadcasting history, has died, aged 87.


Working for the BBC for almost 50-years, it was Coleman’s voice that accompanied many of the most significant sporting events of the 20th Century. During his career he covered no less than 11 summer Olympic Games and six football World Cup tournaments.

His family said in a statement: "We regret to announce the death of David Coleman OBE; after a short illness he died peacefully with his family at his bedside."

Coleman joined the BBC in 1954, and as well as covering showpiece events for the Corporation, fronted long-running Saturday afternoon show Grandstand as well as quiz show A Question of Sport between 1979 and 1997.

Awarded an OBE in 1992, Coleman retired from the BBC in 2000 after working on the Sydney Olympics in Australia.

Throughout his career Coleman became affectionately known by sport fans for his on-air gaffes earning him the title of “Colemanballs.”

Speaking to the BBC, former colleague Brendan Foster said of Coleman; "David enriched so many lives and that was down to his brilliant commentary and presentation at all the major sporting events of the world.

"In my view everybody had a David Coleman quote they could use. It could have been about Pele, Charlton, Toshack or Keegan, or just 'one-nil'.

"It was a privilege to know him, to have him commentating on races during my career, to work with him and to call him a friend."

Match of the Day presenter Gary Linker joined those expressing their sadness at his passing, tweeting: "Sad to hear, David Coleman has died. A giant of sports broadcasting. Brilliant, gifted, precise and concise. Much more than 'one-nil' #RIP."

BBC director-general Tony Hall called Coleman "one of this country's greatest and most respected broadcasters," while Barbara Slater, the BBC's Director of Sport, added: "David Coleman was a giant in the sports broadcasting world. His was one of broadcasting's most authoritative and identifiable voices that graced so many pinnacle sporting moments."


Coleman is survived by his wife Barbara, and their six children.


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