World Cup Triumph as Captain 1966
England Caps : 108
Goals : 2
Player and Captaincy : 1962-1973
Bobby Moore OBE, was the only England captain to have won the World Cup, in 1966. Not only did he lead the side to victory, with an impeccable display that included superb intuition and perfectly timed tackles, but he was also a great captain.
Sir Alf Ramsey, the World Cup winning manager, said that without Moore, England would never have won the trophy, and his peers recognised his talents too, voting him the World Cup Player of Players for the tournament. The final was his 47th cap and he would go on to win a total of 108 caps, which until recently was a record for an English outfield player.
Early DaysMoore was recognised from an early age and included in the England Under 23 squad in 1960 at the age of only 19, and was drafted into the 1962 World Cup squad by then Manager Walter Winterbottom. He made his full England debut in the last friendly before the tournament started and stayed in the team for the rest of the tour, until England went out at the quarter-final stage to Brazil.
His first match as captain was in 1963 when Johnny Haynes retired and Jimmy Armfield, the usual deputy, was injured. Although Armfield was able to come back and captain again, Ramsey, then the new manager, gave the captaincy to Moore on a permanent basis in the summer of 1964. England didn’t qualify for the 1964 European Championship so the next major tournament for Moore would be the 1966 World Cup.
World Cup GloryNever thought of as a goal-scorer, Moore actually scored both of his two goals for England in friendlies, against Poland and Norway, in the run up to the tournament. Ramsey built the team around a core of Moore, Gordon Banks and Bobby Charlton, but Moore’s role as a key defender and captain was set against unrest at West Ham, where he was out of contract and could have been ineligible to play in the World Cup.
Ramsey intervened to put the situation to bed and the World Cup opened, with England progressing though to the final with an elegant Moore ever-present at the back next to Big Jack Charlton. Even so, Moore nearly didn’t play in the final, with Norman Hunter discussed as a replacement, because he played together with Charlton at Leeds and was considered a tougher defender.
As we know, this didn’t happen and legends were made as Bobby Moore received the Jules Rimet trophy from the Queen on 30th July 1966.
Mexico 1970Four years later, the team that Ramsey and Moore led to Mexico to defend their trophy were generally considered to be better than the team that had lifted it in the first place, with the core of the 1966 team in their prime and new players such as Alan Mullery and Francis Lee joining them. However, Moore once more had to play under a cloud as trumped up theft charges in Columbia led his being placed under house arrest for four days in the run-up to the game against Brazil.
That match was possibly the greatest performance by Moore in an England side, even though they lost 0-1, with Moore’s perfectly timed challenges countering the fluid Brazil attack time and time again. There were so many iconic moments, such as Banks’ save from Pele’s header, Moore’s perfect tackle on the wizard Jairzinho, and the embrace between Moore and Pele as they swapped shirts at the end of the game. That the team later succumbed to West Germany to exit at the quarter-finals was no reflection on Moore.
Poland 1973With England again not qualifying for the European Championships the next tournament was to be the 1974 World Cup in West Germany, but the qualifying rounds did not go well, either for Moore or England. Moore had never been a quick player, relying on his reading of the game to be ahead of his opponents, but by now he was visibly slower and the Polish coach told his players to exploit this. That he deflected a free kick in for the Poles’ first goal couldn’t be put down to that, but for the second, he was caught napping and robbed in his own half by Lubanski who went on to score.
Out of form, Moore was dropped for the final qualifier, a must-win home match against Poland, and he thought that his international career was over. But although Ramsey assured him that he would need his captain for the finals to come, the subsequent 1-1 draw was not enough and the finals never did come. Moore played in the next international, against Italy, taking his tally of caps to 108, and it was to be his last game in an England shirt. Ramsey too left his position a soon after, and an era was over.
At the End, Only RespectIt doesn’t seem so long ago that Bobby Moore, possibly the best defender England ever possessed, was still around, but in fact his untimely death from cancer was in 1993. The measure of the man as an international player is indicated by the words of Pele, universally regarded as the best football player the world has ever known, who said that Moore was “the greatest defender I ever played against. The world has lost one of its greatest football players, and an honourable gentleman.”
After his death West Ham United, Moore’s home for most of his club career, renamed their South Stand the Bobby Moore Stand, and a bronze statue of him has been commissioned to grace the entrance of the new Wembley Stadium, a fitting tribute to a great captain and sportsman.