Bobby Moore - "Young Bobby" - by Brian Belton

Bobby Moore - "Young Bobby" - by Brian Belton

“The closest Bobby Moore got to the European Footballer of the Year was second in 1970 when he was just edged out by Gerd Muller, the opportunist West Germany and Bayern Munich striker whose goal in extra time in Mexico ended England's tenure of the World Cup that year. That defeat was probably the biggest disappointment of Bobby's long and illustrious career. Lionised by his fellow professionals, he was the embodiment of all that was great about English football. His international career spanned nearly 14 years and 108 games. Bobby was captain for a record 90 matches, and England lost only 13 times when he led the team out.

“Bobby enjoyed his celebrity status but never lost sight of his East End roots. He'd often sit quietly in a corner of one of his favourite London pubs, chatting to the locals…Bobby liked a drink but, from my earliest days at West Ham, I'd been deeply impressed by his work ethic on the training ground. He was a good role model for youngsters. One Sunday morning early in my first-team career, I was having treatment from our physiotherapist, Rob Jenkins, at Upton Park. Rob was always in the treatment room on Sunday mornings, working on injured players. On this particular morning Bobby Moore turned up in a sweat suit and started lapping the Upton Park pitch. 'What's he doing?' I asked Rob. 'He always does that on Sunday morning if he's had a big Saturday night out,' Rob explained.

“No argument about the greatest defender of the time is ever likely to end in agreement, but all such debate must start with Bobby Moore. Others, such as Italy's Facchetti, Germany's Beckenbauer or Argentina's Passarella, might have been stronger, more elegant, or quicker, but none had Bobby's combination of talents. Those who saw him play will know what I mean. Those who didn't are unlikely to understand.

“Bobby wasn't the quickest, the tallest, or the toughest, but he had a matchless mix of skills that gave him composure and a presence that were a fine example to those around him. Critics who said he couldn't run, couldn't head the ball or couldn 't tackle were really missing the point. His thought process was the quickest thing on the pitch. He was always ahead of everyone else. Trying to sneak the ball past him was like trying to sneak the sunrise past a rooster.

“Bobby was already an established international star when I went to Upton Park as a boy. His career seemed to run forever. He played in the days of Johnny Haynes and Billy Wright and was still playing when Kenny Dalglish, a big name from a much more recent era, suddenly burst upon the scene. They played against each other for the first time when Bobby marked Kenny in the Scottish FA centenary match in February 1973…”

That England won that game 1-0 says it all

Trevor Brooking, West Ham and England

Read more about Bobby in Brian Belton's book 'Young Bobby'


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