1965-70: Bobby Moore
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The Independent Online

How to choose one from so many talents? Bob Beamon stretched the world long jump record to 8.90 metres, Giacomo Agostini on his unforgettable howling MV Agusta dominated world motor-cycling, Jean-Claude Killy was breathtaking on the ski slopes, George Best was at his best and Billie-Jean King won Wimbledon three times. But Bobby Moore, who many would not consider to have been a naturally great footballer, was a man for the big day, and the World Cup final of 1966 was his and England's.

How to choose one from so many talents? Bob Beamon stretched the world long jump record to 8.90 metres, Giacomo Agostini on his unforgettable howling MV Agusta dominated world motor-cycling, Jean-Claude Killy was breathtaking on the ski slopes, George Best was at his best and Billie-Jean King won Wimbledon three times. But Bobby Moore, who many would not consider to have been a naturally great footballer, was a man for the big day, and the World Cup final of 1966 was his and England's.

Ron Greenwood, his manager and teacher at West Ham, called him "an occasions player". Under pressure, Moore had always been able to play his way out of trouble, just as he was amazingly calm when in 1970 in Colombia he was absurdly accused of stealing a bracelet when he was wealthy enough to have bought the whole street. In fact during the World Cup of that year he was probably at his peak, rather than when England beat West Germany in the World Cup final of 1966 when he was named player of the tournament.

He had led West Ham to their European Cup-Winners' Cup victory in 1965 at Wembley where he was almost as much at home as he was at Upton Park. Certainly he always appeared to be without nerves, yet on the morning of the World Cup final he had woken to find Jimmy Greaves packing his bags, distraught at being left out of the team. Moore began the biggest day of his career consoling his room-mate.

The key to the victory, he said later, was one that Alf Ramsey had predicted. Franz Beckenbauer was told to be more concerned about marking Bobby Charlton than promoting himself as the fulcrum of the German side.

Even so, Moore's contribution was immense. His quickly taken free-kick allowed Geoff Hurst to balance Helmut Haller's opening goal and for the rest of the match his composure was an inspiration, especially during extra-time. As for the over-the-line goal (the third) by Geoff Hurst, the ever honest Moore said: "I wouldn't have liked a goal like that to have been given against England." It satisfied his sense of fair play that England got a fourth from his pass.

Although at first he felt that his career could never bring greater satisfaction, four years later, in Mexico, Pele described him as the best defender in the world.

Thereafter his career ebbed, although he did appear in the 1975 FA Cup final for Fulham. Football the world over mourned his death in 1993 at the age of only 51.

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