Legendary Australian soccer broadcaster Les Murray has died at the age of 71.
Murray, born László Ürge in Budapest, Hungary, has been the game’s most visible TV presenter and staunchest supporter since joining Network Ten as a commentator in 1977.
He most recently hosted The World Game, on SBS, from 2001 to 2014. He covered five World Cup tournaments, earning the nickname “Mr Football”, and was inducted into the FFA’s Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
In 2006, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to association football.
SBS tweeted the news this afternoon:
— SBS – The World Game (@TheWorldGame) July 31, 2017
The tributes were quick to follow:
Les Murray brought the world game to Australian homes. He was the voice of famous victory and heartbreaking defeat, of joy and despair. Vale
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) July 31, 2017
The Fox Football family is saddened to hear of the passing of icon Les Murray today.
A legend, pioneer in our sport pic.twitter.com/uFe1PSCGQ1
— FOX SPORTS Football (@FOXFOOTBALL) July 31, 2017
The world lost a football colossus this morning, Les Murray AM. He fought well into extra time but whistle has blown. His legacy is lasting
— Craig Foster (@Craig_Foster) July 31, 2017
He continued to comment as a guest for SBS and blogged for The World Game right up to July 9, where he penned his last piece reminding the FFA of its duty to honour those pioneers Johnny Warren famously labelled “sheilas, wogs and poofters”.
Murray arrived in Australia in 1956, aged 11, first settling down with family in a migrant camp for three weeks in Bonegilla migrant camp near Wodonga before his father found work in Wollongong.
Murray shared a small house with another Hungarian family, and a single bedroom in it with his parents and two brothers.
The migrant experience stayed with him and he was as strong an advocate for refugee rights as he was for football his whole life.
SBS managing director, Michael Ebeid, said:
“No one better embodied what SBS represents than Les Murray. From humble refugee origins, he became one Australia’s most recognised and loved sporting identities.
“Not just a football icon, but a great Australian story and an inspiration to many, to say that his contribution to SBS and to football was enormous, doesn’t do it justice. This is a devastating loss for all of us at SBS. Our thoughts are with his family and all that loved him.”
Murray is survived by two daughters.
Here is the tribute SBS put together for Murray’s retirement in 2014: