A Tribute To... Bobby Moore

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A Tribute To... Bobby Moore

Welcome to the seventh in the "A Tribute To..." series. Today's tribute is to the man who led England to their first, and so far only, World Cup: Bobby Moore.

Characterised by seemingly effortless authority, elegance and skill, Bobby Moore was the best defender in Britain in the 1960s and early 70s, some say the best British defender ever.

Although he didn't posses great pace, nor towering height, he compensated for this with his great anticipation and vision, and his tackling was clean, incisive, and perfectly timed. His unruffled and often diffident manner concealed a sharp, aware football brain.

Born on 12 April, 1941, Moore was the first of a long line of players to come from Barking. Since, the likes of Giles Barnes, Trevor Brooking, Paul Konchesky, Bobby Zamora and John Terry have all come from Barking.

Moore signed for West Ham United at the age of 15, and two years later made his debut, at the expense of Malcolm Ellison. Despite playing out of position (he was at left-back), Bobby Moore's performance, coupled with an illness to Ellison, ensured that Ellison never played for West Ham again.

He became a regular starter in no time, and soon moved to his favoured position, centre-back. Within three years, and at just 20 years of age, Moore had won the West Ham Player of the Year award.

The next year, in 1962, Moore was called up for England for the first time. His debut came on the 20th May, 1962, against Peru, and he got off to a winning start, thrashing Peru 4-0.

Moore was so impressive in that game that he managed to hold down a regular England spot for the next few months, including throughout the 1962 World Cup.

Just over a year after his debut, Bobby Moore was named captain of England for the match against Czechoslovakia. It was only a temporary thing, but at 22, and with just 12 caps to his name, Moore made history as the youngest man to ever captain England.

By 1964, Alf Ramsey had given the job to Moore permanently. This was one of many high points of 1964 for Moore. At club level he led West Ham to the FA Cup, beating Preston North-End 3-2 at Wembley. Moore had his first taste of silverware.

An individual award was to follow for Moore as well. He beat off competitors to win the 1964 FWA Footballer of the Year award.

1965 brought more success for Moore and West Ham as they were back at Wembley, this time for the European Cup Winners' Cup final against 1860 Munich. This gave West Ham their first European success in their history.

1966 was Moore's zenith, however. He guided West Ham to a League Cup final, which they ended up losing. But substantial consolation was around the corner.

Bobby Moore went into the World Cup as England's captain, talisman and star-player. As host nation, England were expected to do better than previous World Cups. But few expected them to go on and win it.

Moore guided England through the group stage with relative ease, remaining unbeaten and not conceding a goal in a group consisting of Uruguay, France and Mexico. A 1-0 win against a dangerous Argentina side in the quarter-finals put them through to the semi-finals, still having not conceded a goal.

In the semis they met a Eusebio-inspired Portugal and he became the first player to score a goal against England at the 1966 World Cup. But it was merely a consolation goal. A Bobby Charlton double ensured a 2-1 victory in the World Cup final for England.

In the final they came up against arch-rivals West Germany, who had a young, but talented Franz Beckenbauer in their midst. The rest is history.

The match, poised at 2-2, went into extra-time. Hurst hit a hugely controversial goal to take the lead, and then completed his hat-trick to the immortal words "There are people on the pitch, they think it's all over. It is now." Bobby Moore had captained his country to victory in a World Cup. He also managed to set-up two of Hurst's goals.

Bobby Moore was a national icon, a national hero and a national treasure. He was awarded an OBE the year after the World Cup success.

More consistent club performances followed over the next few years, without West Ham winning anything. Bobby Moore soon became a West Ham legend, so much so that the fans still talk of him today on regular occasions.

He captained England to another World Cup in 1970, shrugging off theft accusations to put in some inspired performances. A wonderful performance against the great 1970 Brazil team was the high point of this World Cup. Bobby Moore tackled Jairzinho superbly during the game, and some believe it to be the best tackle ever made.

However, West Germany got their own back for four years previously by beating England in the quarter-finals, once again via extra-time.

1973 was another memorable year for Moore, mainly for the two records he broke in the space of three days. On Valentine's Day, 1973, Moore won his 100th cap for England, the vast majority coming as captain. He guided England to a 5-0 win over Scotland. He went on to break Bobby Charlton's record of appearances made for England later that year.

Three days later and he broke West Ham's all-time appearance record, playing his 509th match for the Hammers, a fitting reward for such a fantastic servant.

The happiness was also tinged with sadness, however, as he played his last game for England. It was his 108th, a record which has been surpassed only by Peter Shilton. A phenomenal 90 of these caps came as captain, equalling the great Billy Wright's record of times captaining England.

In January 1974, Moore left West Ham after over 15 years and joined Second Divsion Fulham, where he managed to lead them to an FA Cup final, only to be beaten by his old team West Ham.

After three years at Fulham, Moore moved to the USA to see out the twilight of his career. He retired from professional football in 1978, at 37 years old.

His overall career stats are 26 goals in 699 appearances, but if you were to look at the amount of goals he prevented, it could well be into the 1000s.

Bobby Moore tragically died of cancer on February 21, 1993. The world was left to mourn one of the best defenders to ever grace the game.

Tributes poured in from every club, demonstrating just how highly regarded and well respected he was. Pele regards him as the greatest defender he ever played against.

A true footballing hero, and the only man to have brought World Cup success to England, this has been a tribute to Bobby Moore.

 

Click here to see other tributes made by this author.

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