ITV has relegated Clive Tyldesley as its main football commentator after 22 years.
Tyldesley’s warm, excitable voice has guided audiences through many a Champions League night, as well as World Cups, European Championships, England friendlies and FA Cups.
The 65-year-old spoke to the biggest ever British audience for a single game when the Three Lions lost to Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi-final in front of 24.3million viewers.
Tyldesley has commentated on 17 Champions League finals, including dramatic victories for Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United, when he cried: “Solskjaer has won it”.
He was expected to lead the ITV team for this summer’s postponed Euro 2020 finals and is still due to return to the commentary box in a supporting role next season.
Tyldesley’s replacement is Sam Matterface, who is Talksport’s chief football commentator and will combine the TV and radio roles from the start of the new campaign.
Matterface, who was a familiar voice on ITV’s Europa League coverage, is likely to make his debut in the flagship slot in an England friendly at Wembley in the autumn.
ITV Sport’s director Niall Sloane said: “On behalf of ITV Sport, I would like to thank Clive for his superb work leading our commentary on some of the biggest occasions in world football throughout his outstanding career with us.
“We are very glad he will continue with us and look forward to working with him on many more occasions in the future.”
Tyldesley recently revealed he had written to the Professional Footballers’ Association about the need for co-commentators to receive “proper training” on avoiding racial stereotypes after a study found “evident bias” on air.
It saw players with a lighter skin tone praised more often for their intelligence and work ethic, while those with darker skin tones were “significantly” more likely to be “reduced to their physical characteristics or athletic ability”.
Tyldesley said: “Most of the opinions and judgements you hear during commentaries come from the co-comms, they don't come from me, the lead commentator.”
Tyldesley kept football fans amused on social media at the height of the coronavirus lockdown by commentating on his wife’s cooking.
He has also begun selling authentic framed copies of his notes from his commentary matches, such as England’s 5-1 victory over Germany in 2001 and Manchester City ’s title-winning win at home to Queen’s Park Rangers.
Describing the notes, he said: “This is what my safety net looks like when I step onto the high wire of live commentary to millions of viewers. This is what the start of one of the rides of your life looked like from where I was standing.”
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