Les Murray

László Ürge

(1945-11-05)5 November 1945
Died31 July 2017(2017-07-31) (aged 71)
NationalityHungarian Australian
Occupation(s)Broadcaster, sports journalist, analyst
Years active1971–2014

Les James Murray AM (born László Ürge [ˈyrɡæ ˈlaːsloː]; 5 November 1945[1] – 31 July 2017) was a Hungarian-born Australian sports journalist, association football (soccer) broadcaster and analyst. He was the host of The World Game on SBS television, retiring in July 2014,[2] and has been inducted into the FFA's Football Hall of Fame.

As the country's most prominent TV presenter of football, Murray played a major role in the sport's growing popularity in Australia beginning in the 1980s.[3][4] Murray coined the phrase "the world game", which later became the title of SBS's football programme.[citation needed]

Early life

Murray was born as László Ürge in Pápa, Hungary, the son of József and Erzsébet Ürge. The family immigrated to Australia in 1957 under the Hungarian Refugee Assisted Scheme.[1] They resided at Wollongong, New South Wales after some time at Bonegilla Migrant Camp near Wodonga.[3] He was educated at Berkeley High School.[5]

He decided to anglicise his name because Ürge was difficult for non-Hungarians to pronounce and made him prone to taunts.[6]: 133  The surname Murray was suggested by his father, as "Muray" is also Hungarian for "of the Mura River".[6]: 134 


This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Les Murray" broadcaster – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (August 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Murray's passion for football, in which he had been interested from an early age, was sparked after watching a replay of the 1960 European Cup Final. He began work as a journalist in 1971. In between, he found time to perform in a small rock music group, 'The Rubber Band', where he was lead singer. He moved to Network Ten as a commentator in 1977, changing his name from László Ürge to Les Murray at that time.[7]

Murray moved to SBS in 1980 as a Hungarian language subtitler but soon turned to covering football. He was the host for SBS coverage of Football including the World Cups from 1986 to 2014, as well as Australia's World Cup Qualifiers, most memorably in 1997, 2001 and 2005. He also anchored the SBS team at friendlies and international tournaments in which junior and women's national teams are competing.

SBS sports programs hosted by him have included On the Ball (1984–2000), Toyota World Sports (c. 1990 – 2006) and The World Game (2001-his death).

Murray was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to Football on 12 June 2006 as part of the Queen's Birthday honours list.[8]

In 2006, Murray stepped down from his position as SBS's Sports Director to become an editorial supervisor for SBS, while his on-air role remained the same. His main motive for this decision was to concentrate on his range of presentation duties as the 'face' of SBS Sport.[9]

On 23 January 2008 Murray was featured in Food Safari episode Hungarian, where he showed Maeve O'Meara how to make rakott krumpli.

He was a member of the FIFA Ethics Committee.[10]

In 2009, he was awarded Australian Sports Commission Media Award Lifetime Achievement Award.

In August 2011, Murray won the inaugural 'Blogger of the Year' award at the FFDU Australian Football Media awards,[11] ultimately defeating fellow finalists Matthew Collard and Christian Layland.[12]

In June 2014, he announced his retirement as chief football commentator on SBS, to begin after the FIFA World Cup, although he continued to appear in guest spots on SBS.[2]

On 12 December 2021, Les was posthumously inducted to the Sydney Cricket Ground Media Hall of Honour, alongside 11 others added to the inaugural 15 media personalities who were first celebrated in 2014.[13]


In 2011, Murray published a book titled The World Game: The Story of How Football Went Global, in which Murray cited an undisclosed source in alleging that Lucas Neill, the captain of the Socceroos, had instigated a mutiny just before the Germany v Australia game at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Murray alleged that Neill had asked his coach, Pim Verbeek, to leave the room, before describing Verbeek's game-plan as "bullshit" and erasing what the Dutchman had written on a whiteboard, telling the team to play like they normally do.

The publication of this story was followed by responses from team members who had been eyewitnesses of the actual events, including Craig Moore, Eugene Galeković and Mile Jedinak, stating that the event portrayed in Murray's book never occurred. Neill protested that before the Germany game it was Mark Schwarzer, and not Neill himself, who had given the team pep talk. A few days after the allegations hit the news, Murray retracted his allegations with a full apology, with an undertaking that future editions of his book would have the relevant portion deleted.

The same year then-SBS journalist Jesse Fink accused Murray of conflict of interest at SBS over his Ethics Committee role at FIFA.[14] In 2020, Fink wrote a piece on his website explaining the chronology of his dispute with Murray.[15]

Personal life

Murray was married to Eva, and they had two daughters, Natalie and Tania, before divorcing. He then had a long-term relationship with partner Maria.[16]


On 31 July 2017, Murray died of a cancer-related illness in Sydney, aged 71.[16] He was given a state funeral at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney.

In popular culture


  1. ^ a b NAA: A2478/19 URGE J/BOX 158, Non-British European migrant selection documents, National Archives of Australia
  2. ^ a b "Les Murray – End of an Era". Theworldgame.sbs.com.au. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b Les Murray, AM – a refugee kid who became Australia’s face of football Archived 21 June 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Refugee Council of Australia media release, June 2008
  4. ^ Brunch – Les Murray (Mr Football) at 702 ABC Radio Sydney, 22 June 2008
  5. ^ "Illawarra Sports High School". Sydney FC Academy Football Schools. Sydney FC. n.d. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b Murray, Les (2006). By the Balls: Memoir of a football tragic (first ed.). Random House Australia. ISBN 978-1-74051-355-5.
  7. ^ From Hungary to Australia: Les Murray's Life Interview by Richard Aedy, Life Matters ABC Radio National, 14 June 2003. [This is a 30-minute audio MP3—No transcript is available]
  8. ^ "It's an Honour – Honours – Search Australian Honours". Australian Government. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  9. ^ SBS – Les Murray Takes On New Role Archived 12 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine Media release at Entertainment News, 30 October 2006
  10. ^ "Ethics Committee". FIFA. Archived from the original on 8 July 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  11. ^ Sack, The Football. "Footy Fans unite downunder – The Football Sack". Thefootballsack.com. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  12. ^ ""DiscoverSCU – June 2011 – Media gong kicks goal for student sport journalism". Archived from the original on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2011." Southern Cross University, Retrieved 2 August 2011
  13. ^ "Second induction to SCG Media Hall of Honour". Sydney Cricket Ground. 12 December 2021. Retrieved 4 August 2023.
  14. ^ Fink, Jesse (26 July 2011). "FIFA's judges should also be judged". Al Jazeera.
  15. ^ Fink, Jesse (16 May 2020). "Why I stopped writing about soccer". jessefinkbooks.com.
  16. ^ a b "Football icon Les Murray dead aged 71". News.com.au. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  17. ^ "Les is more as Zinedine Zidane hits the airwaves". Theworldgame.sbs.com.au. Retrieved 1 August 2017.

Further reading