Moore: a greatness without cynicism: Friends pay tribute at memorial service to World Cup captain's shining example

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The Independent Online
IT WAS hard to avoid the feeling that yesterday's memorial service for a great sportsman was also a memorial service for greatness in British sport.

On a day as gloriously hot and sunny as it was 27 years ago when he lifted the World Cup, Bobby Moore was remembered at Westminster Abbey, where every other face was a memory of Sixties sporting flair and character: George Best, Rodney Marsh, Jimmy Greaves, Henry Cooper, and of course Bobby Charlton and all Moore's other World Cup team mates.

His close friend, the comedian Jimmy Tarbuck, said that a student of the modern game would find there was much that Moore did not know how to do: 'He did not really know how to foul anyone; he did not know how to argue with referees; he did not know how to retaliate; and he did not have a clue how to be negative.' And when the Dean of Wesminster listed the qualities of the former England captain who died of cancer at the age of 51 earlier this year, he cited qualities both professional and personal, not always apparent in sports arenas today.

Moore's achievement, he said, 'stands as a symbol for all that is best in sport: the patient development of an innate ability, a thorough understanding of tactics and teamwork, and a relationship of mutual respect with those against whom he competed.

'We remember also the kindness and humour which marked his private life, and his loyalty and generosity to his family; the dignity which he maintained in public and in private, and the courage with which he faced death.'

Bobby Charlton said the courage Moore showed in his last few years of his life was his 'greatest triumph', greater than the FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup medals, greater than the World Cup winners' medal, greater than his 108 caps for England.

Moore had no equal in his chosen position in the 1966-70 period, and the greatest players of the era, Brazil's Pele and West Germany's Franz Beckenbauer, had constantly praised his qualities of leadership 'as a shining example of how to play the game'. He loved his club, West Ham, and its attacking style of play, Charlton said.

Jimmy Greaves was right to wonder after the service why the Football Association did not use Moore as an ambassador for the sport once his playing days were over, as Germany used Beckenbauer.

Charlton referred to Moore's lack of pace, but said he did not need to be the fastest player because his balance and timing were so perfect. Tarbuck also referred to it, remembering an incident when Moore met the Olympic athlete Lillian Board and asked her what she would do if he ran after her. 'I'd slow down for you, Mr Moore,' she replied.

It cannot fail to seem inappropriate to see great athletes sad and subdued in a place of worship; Bobby Charlton putting on his glasses as he steps up to the pulpit, and Franz Beckenbauer reading from Ecclesiastes.

Jimmy Tarbuck chose a metaphor which perhaps best summed up this union; a metaphor which, on any other occasion, might have caused a little squirming, but one which struck a chord throughout the packed abbey. 'The Lord,' he said, 'has strengthened his team but weakened ours.'

(Photograph omitted)