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Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 12:12 GMT
BBC's Wolstenholme dies
Wolstenholme will best be remembered for the 1966 World Cup final
Wolstenholme was a World War Two flying hero
Legendary football commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme has died aged 81.

Wolstenholme was most famous for uttering the words "they think it's all over, it is now" at the end of England's 1966 World Cup final win at Wembley.

He was an inspiring character
BBC football correspondent Mike Ingham
But he was the "voice of football" for more than 20 years with the BBC.

He died on Monday at a private hospital in Torquay with his daughter by his side.

In all he commentated on 23 successive FA Cup finals and five World Cups before leaving the BBC after the 1970 World Cup to make way for David Coleman.

Wolstenholme was one of the pioneers of sports broadcasting, who ushered in a new era in football coverage when he became the first commentator on BBC's Match of the Day.

Sir Bobby Charlton - a member of the 1966 England team - has paid tribute to Salford-born Wolstenholme.

"I'm very, very sad. He loved the game and he was good at what he did," said Charlton.

"He had a marvellous voice which everybody remembers, and of course, those very famous words.

"He created the picture - 1966 is not just about the players, it's about Kenneth Wolstenholme as well. All the lads will be very, very sad.

"I'm very sorry to hear that he's gone but his words are there forever. He's down in history and not every person can say that."

War hero

Wolstenholme was a bomber pilot during the Second World War, flying more than 100 missions for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar.

He joined the BBC in 1948 and claimed to have never watched a television programme before his first commentary, a Southern versus Northern counties football match.

In recent years Wolstenholme returned to TV commentary with Channel Four's Italian football coverage, though ill health eventually forced him to give that up.

His last television appearance was on a football special of the BBC's Weakest Link programme.

His passion for England's football team was clearly undiminished and he was optimistic about the chances of Sven-Goran Eriksson's side in Japan this summer.

But for Wolstenholme nothing could eclipse Sir Alf Ramsey's England team of 1966.

"It wasn't just a team," he used to say. "Alf Ramsey formed a football club in 1966. I have always felt privileged to be part of it."

BBC Sport's Nigel Adderley
"Wolstenholme helped to usher football into the television age"
Former England star Martin Peters
"He will always be remembered as a part of 1966"
See also:

26 Mar 02 |  Football
Motson tribute to Wolstenholme
23 Jan 02 |  BBC Pundits
Masters of the microphone
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