PARIS: French football is mourning its ‘voice of football,’ long-time commentator Thierry Roland, who died hours after watching – on TV, of course – France’s Euro 2012 match against Ukraine writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Roland, variously labelled a ‘commentary legend’ and the ‘king of television football’ had been taken ill before the game on which he should have commentated along with his long-term broadcaster partner Jean-Michel Larque, the former international midfielder for the M6 channel.

The death of Roland,apparently after a massive stroke, was announced by his old friend Jacques Vendroux, director of sports for Radio France.

Roland had covered 13 World Cups and nine European Championships, most notably for Antenne 2 and then TF1. He underwent surgery on June 13 after which he pulled out of the Ukraine-France match out of concern for local medical back-up in case of illness.

He was known for his occasional broadcasting faux-pas but these had just helped establish his status as an icon of French television.

French state President Francois Hollande led the tributes along with Larque, Vendoux and UEFA president Michel Platini who had been at his height as a player when Roland was at his height as a commentator.

Hollande paid tribute to a man who “devoted his life, with all his Tlent and abilities, to French football.”

Platini said: “He was the voice of football for millions of people and he was not only my friend but the voice of my own story, my career, my successes, a part of my life.”

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