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Tributes pour in for ‘remarkable’ David Coleman

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Legendary BBC commentator David Coleman, who passed away after a short illness, has been hailed as the “greatest sports broadcaster” ever.

Tributes from across the sporting spectrum poured in for the former Question of Sport host after his family announced the 87-year-old had died following a short illness.

The veteran anchorman first appeared on air for the BBC in 1954, covering 11 Olympic Games from Rome in 1960 to Sydney 2000 and six football World Cups.

Broadcaster and former distance runner Brendan Foster said: “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.”

Coleman presented some of the BBC’s leading sporting programmes, including Grandstand and Sportsnight, and was the host of Question of Sport for 18 years.

He was awarded an OBE in 1992 and retired from the BBC in 2000. Later that year he became the first broadcaster to receive an Olympic Order medal, in recognition of his contribution to the Olympic movement.

The BBC’s director general Tony Hall led the corporation’s tributes.

He said: “David Coleman was one of this country’s greatest and most respected broadcasters.

“Generations grew up listening to his distinctive and knowledgeable commentary. Whether presenting, commentating or offering analysis, he set the standard for all today’s sports broadcasters.”

A former keen amateur runner, Coleman began work as a reporter on the Stockport Express and wrote for an army newspaper during his national service.

After being ruled out of the 1952 British Olympic team due to injury, he wrote to a BBC editor asking if he could cover athletics on the Saturday evening sports

programme. He began presenting Grandstand in 1958 and worked on the programme for 10 years before being replaced by Frank Bough.

In 1971 he became the BBC’s senior football commentator, covering five FA Cup finals before handing over to John Motson in 1979.

BBC Director of sport Barbara Slater added: “David Coleman was a giant in the sports broadcasting world, an iconic and hugely respected figure. In a BBC career that spanned over 40 years he set the standard that so many others have tried to emulate.”

A statement from his family said: “We regret to announce the death of David Coleman OBE, after a short illness. He died peacefully with his family at his bedside.”

Despite having an encyclopaedic knowledge of sport, David Coleman was also fondly known for his on-air gaffes, which inspired the Colemanballs series of books and regularily featured in satirical magazine Private Eye.

Here are some of his most famous blunders.

“That’s the fastest time ever run but it’s not as fast as the world record.”

“Don’t tell those coming in the final result of that fantastic match, but let’s just have another look at Italy’s winning goal.”

“For those of you watching who do not have television sets, live commentary is on Radio 2.”

“The late start is due to the time.”

“There is Brendan Foster, by himself with 20,000 people.”

“Forest have now lost six matches without winning.”

“The front wheel crosses the finish line, closely followed by the back wheel.”

“And here’s Moses Kiptanui the 19-year-old Kenyan who turned 20 a few weeks ago.”

“If that had gone in, it would have been a goal.”