Hansen to quit Match of the Day next year

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Former Liverpool captain Alan Hansen will end his 22-year career with Match of the Day when he retires after next year's World Cup in Brazil.

Since the start of the Premier League in 1992, Hansen has been captivating us with his football experience, and breakdown of the weekend's games - but not any more.

The Scotland international will not pursue a new deal when his contract runs out next July. 

During his two decades on MOTD, Hansen rejected other offers from Sky, ITV, and even the opportunity to manage Manchester City, but despite this, insists he will be leaving the programme that football fans look forward to every Saturday night.

Match of the Day remains the most watched football programme in the country. It has viewing figures in excess of four million, sometimes five - according to the Daily Telegraph.

And the 58-year-old told Telegraph Sport that this season will be his last.

“I’m retiring from Match of the Day at the end of the season,” Hansen said. “I will have been there for 22 years and will be 59, so it’s the right time for me.

“The guys at the BBC know me and I said, ‘Look, this is categorical. I’m leaving and nothing will make me change my mind’. I am contracted to do the World Cup and I will do that as it will be a good way to go out, but I have had a great run.

“I’ve been in football for 41 years and I’m going out right at the top, just as I did at Liverpool. The plan was always that I would retire at 55. I kept going, but I finally decided to retire during Euro 2012.

“I had just signed a two-year contract and felt that, by the end of it, I would have had enough. But I have worked for a great organisation with wonderful people on the most fantastic programme.”

The show has received criticism for becoming "stale", and has been overshadowed by the growing strength of Sky's coverage and pundits like Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher and Jamie Redknapp, who all have more recent footballing experience. Despite this, Hansen believes the show is unfairly criticised.

“The viewing figures over the last five years have been absolutely sensational but nobody seems to want to know about that,” Hansen said.

“In terms of audience appreciation figures, they are through the roof as well.

“There has definitely been a sea-change, though, because five or six years ago, it was dead. We were still doing the job, but the viewing figures were plummeting. I’m not saying they would not have kept it going, but there was certainly concern over the viewing figures.

"But because there was so much live football on television, it suddenly changed as people started going back to highlights and we started to see the kind of viewing figures we hadn’t seen for ten years.

“Nobody knew that, though. The thing with the BBC is that there are not a lot of people out there willing to defend it, but the viewing figures speak for themselves.

“Match of the Day is a totally different programme to the live football broadcasts and the real strength of it – and also its biggest weakness – is that every second is accounted for before you start.

“The first game, you get 3½ minutes to analyse it, the second game you may get two minutes, but afterwards you get 30 seconds down to 10, so after that it is all sound bites. If you are asking for insight in 10 seconds, then you have to be a better man than me!

“You could have the Manchester derby, Liverpool versus Manchester United or whatever, but 3½ minutes is 3½ minutes. You are not going to get eight minutes. It just isn’t going to happen.

“But I’ve worked with arguably two of the best in Gary [Lineker] and Desmond Lynam. Des was the best, and is the best, because he was just an unbelievable presenter.

“In the early days of Match of the Day, I don’t think I would have been working for 22 years had I gone on with another presenter because he was that good.

“I could say virtually anything to him and he would come back with a line. And his knowledge of football was far greater than anything I thought it would be. He really did know the game.

“When it comes to Gary, you will be three or four questions in, but he already knows question five, six or seven, because he is that good.

“If you are at a World Cup and you have a bit of time, during half-time or at the end of the game, he is there in the debate.

“But if you are doing Match of the Day and you have 3½ minutes, he will only be able to ask maybe two questions.

“The analysis takes one minute 50, so he gets a supplementary question and that is it, but Gary comes into his own when he is given the time to do that.”

Whoever replaces Hansen as a regular on MOTD, they certainly have big shoes to fill.

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Alan Hansen
Premier League

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