Tony Gubba: One of the great voices of football dies, aged 69

Gubba spent much of his TV career working for the BBC
  • @kunaldutta

The sports presenter Tony Gubba, whose voice became synonymous with television football commentary, has died of a short illness. He was 69.

The Manchester-born Gubba spent much of his career working for the BBC as a commentator and presenter for the Saturday sports show Grandstand as well as the midweek sports show Sportsnight. Joining the BBC in 1972, he worked on every World Cup from 1974 to 2006.

In addition to football, Gubba was a sports all-rounder who commentated on hockey, table tennis, golf, tennis, bobsleigh, ski-jumping and darts for the BBC. He also covered every Olympic Games, both summer and winter, from 1972 to 2012.

His more recent role as a presenter on ITV’s Dancing on Ice from 2006 also introduced him to a new audience. His colourful phrasing on ice-skating terminology was much loved. Phrases such as “a butterfly lift followed by a prawn wrap” and “laundry doesn’t spin that fast in a washing machine” endeared him to a new set of weekend television audiences. The show’s executive producer said: “He brought his expertise, his warmth and much humour to our screens. He was very much part of the team and a pleasure to work with. He will be sorely missed and our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”

Tributes for the sports broadcaster were pouring in last night. Philip Schofield, who co-presented Dancing on Ice since 2006, described him as “a genuinely delightful, kind, dedicated and talented man”.

Footballer and Match of the Day commentator Gary Lineker said on Twitter: “Deeply saddened to hear that Tony Gubba has passed away. One of the great voices of football who graced Match of the Day for so many years.”

British Olympic ice-skating stars Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean described Gubba as a “dear friend, a wonderful man and much loved by all”. In a joint statement the pair, who worked with Gubba on Dancing on Ice, said: “He was always so professional and brought a real sense of fun to Dancing on Ice. We will miss him greatly and our hearts go out to his family at this sad time.” Fellow BBC commentator John Motson said Gubba was “one of the original probing reporters – never afraid to ask a difficult question”.

Philip Bernie, the BBC’s head of TV Sport, said: “For a generation he was one of the most familiar and respected names in sports broadcasting. Tony was an outstanding sports journalist and a formidable broadcaster, whose death will sadden everyone at BBC Sport.”

He leaves his partner of 15 years, Jenny, his two daughters, Claire, 40, and Libby, 38, and three granddaughters.