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Legends: Bobby Moore

Robert Frederick Chelsea Moore, a name that may not be instantly recognisable to football fans, however change the Robert to Bobby and drop the middle names and he becomes the biggest icon English football has ever known. The late great Bobby Moore.

Born in Barking, London on April 12, 1941 Moore was marked for greatness at an early age, he made his debut for West Ham at 17 against Sir Matt Busby's Manchester United, replacing his mentor Malcolm Allison and to be honest he never looked back from that moment.

He went on to make a then club record 544 appearances for the Hammers during his 15 seasons with the East London club, and captained the side for more than ten years.

As a defender he brought real style to a position that had previously been left to the hard tackling, strong, high jumping rugged players.

Moore did not have much pace and he wasn't considered to be the best header of the ball, what he could do though was read the game like no other player, he had an almost mystical positional sense and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

Tackler

Throw in the fact that he was the finest timer of a tackler that the game has seen (no doubt you have seen Moore's block tackle against Pele in the 1970 World Cup) and you begin to get a realisation of how good Bobby Moore was.

It was not only as a defender though that Moore made his name, it was also as a captain. Bobby earned his first England cap shortly before the 1962 World Cup in Chile, so impressive was his debut that went on to be an ever present throughout that tournament, and by the time he reached his 12th cap in May 1963 Moore captained England for the first time.

On that occasion it was a stand-in for the injured incumbent Jimmy Armfield however, one year later Walter Winterbottom was replaced as England manager by Alf Ramsey and Ramsey quickly announced that Moore would become England's new skipper. All this at the grand old age of 23.

Moore did not look back as England skipper, he went to equal Billy Wright's record of 90 appearances as England captain, and in all won 108 caps for his country which at the time was a record.

That record has since been overtaken by goalkeeper Peter Shilton, and the outfield record has been taken by David Beckham, although it should be remembered that Bobby Moore played every minute of 108 caps. Bobby Moore's career though will be remembered for more than just setting records for England as a captain and a player.

Golden period

Moore led his club side West Ham United and his country in the most golden period either has known. In a three-year period Moore lifted three major trophies in succession at Wembley Stadium, firstly West Ham defeated Preston North End to win the 1964 FA Cup Final. The Hammers then went on to win the 1965 European Cup Winners Final with a 2-0 defeat of TSV 1860 Munich.

Moore's finest hour though came on July 30th 1966, after a dramatic final where West Germany made the score 2-2 with what was almost the last kick of the game, Geoff Hurst (Moore's West Ham team-mate) added two goals in extra-time to secure England's first and as yet only World Championship.

A vivid memory for many people who have seen footage of that epic game, is of Bobby Moore attempting to clean his hands before accepting a handshake and the Jules Rimet Trophy from the Queen, a moment that really showed Moore's class as a man. He went on to win the prestigious BBC sports personality of the year award for 1966.

It is always tricky to compare players from different eras, as the game and the conditions it is played under have changed so much, but there is little doubt that Bobby Moore is one player who would have made his mark no matter what era he was playing in.
In 1974 Moore ended his association with West Ham and joined Division Two side Fulham, however in an ironic twist of fate West Ham United would still continue to play a leading role in Moore's career.

In Moore's first year at Fulham they were drawn against the Hammers in the League Cup and they emerged victorious over the division one club. The big twist though was yet to come, as Fulham went on a remarkable FA Cup run that saw them reach the final, where they would play no other opponent than West Ham.

Star of the show

This game went on to provide Bobby Moore with the most fitting of all Wembley farewells, Fulham were defeated 2-0 on the day, but Moore was still seen as the star of the show. Moore played another two seasons for Fulham, before ending his career in English football at the end of the 1977 season.

Two short stints in the newly formed North American Soccer League followed, firstly with San Antonio Thunder where he made 24 appearances and then with Seattle Sounders were he played on seven occasions.

He then continued his overseas experience By signing what turned out to be his last professional contract as a player with Danish side Herning Fremad, Moore turned out nine times for the club, to help promote the newly formed professional league in Denmark before announcing his retirement.

After ending his playing career Moore turned his hand to management, but he did not find the success he had as a player. A short spell with Eastern AA in Hong Kong was followed with his rather surprising appointment at non-league Oxford City, although it was later suggested that he believed the club was the more renowned Oxford United.

His final managerial position came at Southend United where he looked to be building a promising squad, but financial problems blighted the club and Moore left the position in 1986.
Bobby also tried his hand at acting at the end of his football career.

Cameo appearances

There was a role in the hit football based war film Escape To Victory and also a few cameo appearances in the comedy show Till Death Do Us Part, but it was football that held the key to Moore's heart.

A role at West Ham United was expected to be created for Moore, but this was never forthcoming and instead he embarked on a career in the media.

From 1990 he worked alongside Jonathan Pearce for London based radio station Capital Gold, commentating on their match day coverage, a job he continued until bowel cancer claimed his life on February 24, 1993, aged just 51 years old.

Since his passing Moore's second wife Stephanie has established the Bobby Moore fund in her husbands honour. The charity works to assist the lives of bowel cancer patients and is growing all the time. It is, however, as England's greatest ever player that Bobby Moore will be remembered.

After all any man that Sir Alex Ferguson calls "the best defender I have ever seen" and who Pele refers to as "the greatest defender I ever played against. The world has lost one of its greatest football players and an honourable gentleman", must surely deserve to be called a legend.

By Anthony Sealey


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