'Mr Football' Les Murray dead aged 71

AUSTRALIAN football forefather and broadcast journalist Les Murray has died after losing a battle with illness. He was aged 71.

The Hungarian-born journalist was synonymous with the game in this country and, along with fellow broadcaster and long-time friend, former Socceroo Johnny Warren, cultivated a massive following and implemented major change in the game.

Affectionally known as 'Mr Football', Murray came to Australia with his parents as political refugees in 1956. He grew up in Wollongong on the NSW south coast where his love of football continued to grow.

He joined SBS in 1980, where he worked for more than three decades. He became the network's head of sport in 1996 before taking up the role of sport editorial chief in 2006.

Murray was a presenter and producer for the network's football coverage and worked on everything from World Cups to Champions League finals.

A published author, Murray was also part of FIFA's ethics committee and worked tirelessly to promote football in Australia at a time when it was far from the mainstream sport it is today.

"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," CEO and managing director Michael Ebeid said.

"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's popularity soared past the football field, however, with Australian rock group TISM honouring him with the song 'What nationality Is Les Murray?'

Murray even accepted a 1995 Aria Award for the band to keep their identities a secret.

He was survived by his two daughters.

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