Football: A leader who inspired confidence: George Cohen recalls his England captain's influence on the team

Click to follow
The Independent Online
BOB had a great stabilising effect on everybody playing around him. That was mainly because they knew how good a player he was and they knew that they could always count on him. You would never see him panicking.

There is one particular incident which stands out in my mind from the World Cup final. For Geoff Hurst's last goal Bobby was in position in his own area when he got the ball and he could easily have done what most others would have done and whacked it into the crowd. But instead he played it down the channel for Geoff. It was typical of his willingness to play every ball.

When people look back to 1966, they have to remember that the players who played with him in the World Cup were great players in their own right. People like Gordon Banks, Ray Wilson, Bobby Charlton, they were world-class players, and all senior players in their own teams. And it is something when great players can recognise that another has special qualities.

It was not a question of educating, people learning from him - you couldn't, for instance, teach Jack Charlton how to play the game. Rather you gain confidence from one another when you know that you've got players of that quality around you. When you have someone with Bob's qualities in the team you gain confidence in your own game just from having him there.

It doesn't seem five minutes since we played with one another and the memories come back very sharp.

I first came across Bobby back in the late Fifties and it was obvious that he was an outstanding player even in his early days.

We got to know each other in the England squad in 1963, playing, training and going on trips together.

Alf Ramsey set the tone when he became England manager, made changes, introduced more discipline without stamping his foot. He made it known what he wanted, what he expected of players.

Bobby was a very dignified person and as captain he acted like a dignified adult. If there was a speech to be made, then he expected to make one. I do not remember Alf having to discipline anyone; he expected the best behaviour, he didn't expect anything less from Bobby Moore and was never let down.

He was well liked and respected by everybody, and I never heard anything bad said about him.

Since retiring we'd get together a few times over the year. He hadn't changed much.

Obviously he was a terrific footballer, there's no doubt about that, everybody knows that. But not everybody knew what a great man he was. He had great dignity, and he carried that dignity over the past two years.

My wife and I heard the news of how seriously ill he was earlier in the week, and we found it very sad. We had been through much the same thing ourselves and we felt particularly for his wife, Stephanie, who had to be seen to be strong while crying her eyes out inside.

Bob never told me himself to what extent this disease had got hold of him. That is a measure of the man. He was a very dignified and very courageous man.

George Cohen was talking to Mark Burton.

Comments