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Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 12:16 GMT
Wolstenholme: The voice of football
BBC's voice of football for more than twenty years
Wolstenholme: 20 years with the BBC
For more than 20 years Kenneth Wolstenholme was the voice of football on television, as commentator on all the big matches - the FA Cup Final, World Cup and internationals.

But it is for his commentary on England's victory in the 1966 World Cup final that he will be best remembered.

And in particular for eight words - words etched on the memory of every England fan.

Kenneth Wolstenholme was born at Worsley in Lancashire in 1920, and began his working life as a journalist on a weekly newspaper in Manchester.

He served in the RAF throughout World War Two, completing 100 missions as a bomber pilot, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, to which was added a Bar.

He returned to civilian life to work as a freelance journalist and broadcaster with BBC radio.

Kenneth Wolstenholme moved to television in 1948 and gave the first of his 22 FA Cup final commentaries in 1950.

Kenneth Wolstenholme commentating in 1949
He joined the BBC after distinguised wartime service in the RAF
He was soon established as the BBC's authoritative voice of football and went on to cover the climax of five World Cup championships and the finals of 16 European Cups and 23 FA Cup finals besides dozens of internationals.

His most famous commentary, though, came at the 1966 World Cup final between England and West Germany at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 30 July 1966.

It was a tense game, between two well-matched sides, with a contoversial English goal still debated today.

Germany equalised in the dying seconds of normal time and extra time was played, during which England went 3-2 up.

As extra time drew to a close, and the English fans spilled onto the Wembley turf in premature celebration, Wolstenholme remarked: "Some people are on the pitch. They think it's all over," before adding, as Geoff Hurst scored his third goal to make it 4-2, "it is now."

In 1971, just after the FA Cup final, with his contract up for renewal, Wolstenholme left the BBC after a disagreement over which matches he should cover.

The England team celebrates victory in the 1966 World Cup final
He commentated on England's victory in the 1966 World Cup final
In later years he wrote newspaper columns, and made occasional appearances on ITV and commercial radio.

He also greatly enjoyed his work with Channel 4, where he regularly voiced the goal round-ups for their Italian football coverage.

But his proudest moment came when part of his 1966 Wembley commentary was broadcast at Westminster Abbey at the Thanksgiving Service for the victorious England captain, Bobby Moore.

His words were adopted as the title of the popular BBC TV series hosted by Nick Hancock; and Wolstenholme's memoirs were called, of course, "They Think It's All Over".

Wolstenholme had mixed feelings about '66.

He felt immense pride that he had produced a timeless piece of broadcasting and coined a phrase that has entered English folklore.

But there was also a hint of regret that the words had overshadowed the rest of a glorious and pioneering career, in which he set the benchmark for sports commentary.

BBC Sport's Mike Ingham
"Kenneth was an inspirational figure"
BBC Sport's James Pearce
"It is the most famous sporting commentary of all"
Kenneth Wolsteholme on the 1966 final
"It was a carnival atmosphere"
See also:

26 Mar 02 |  Football
BBC's Wolstenholme dies
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