Football: Sharpest tactical brain: Brian Moore on the day that Bobby Moore led England to victory in the 1966 World Cup
Thursday 25 February 1993
The story we told will never be forgotten by football people. Not that we told it particularly well - it was just that the men at the centre of it became immortal that afternoon. And Bobby Moore, their captain, stood out a blond and shining hero, made exclusively it seemed for that particular hour.
Bobby's part that day was truly formidable. The Germans had gone ahead; but it was Moore's precise free-kick - taken a fraction earlier than the Germans had expected, another example of his quick footballing wits - that was met by Hurst's unerring head for England's first-half equaliser.
And it was Moore, with Alf Ramsey, who supplied the essential cold water to the sweating debate in the English camp on that Wembley pitch before extra time after the Germans had slipped in like cat burglars for their late normal-time goal which left the score 2-2. While some among Englishmen held their heads and others were quick to forecast defeat, it was Bobby Moore who set about pulling the game round on the pitch in extra time.
No arguing, no cursing their bad luck - simply head up and on with the job. I can see him now with that strutting run - they used to say he lacked a bit of pace, but few ever caught him - eyes everywhere, that classic passing technique - and with it all the coolest head and the sharpest tactical brain in the game.
He told me once that when he was made England's captain, Alf Ramsey said to him: 'Whatever you do on the field, whatever decisions you think are necessary, you'll have my full backing' England's manager need not have worried - and Bobby Moore certainly took charge when the going got ominous that day in 1966, a 4-2 victory providing English football with its most memorable moment. He gave notice in the clearest terms that he must now be considered England's greatest captain.
We have seen often - but not too often - those glittering, joyous scenes at the end of the 1966 final. Bobby Charlton in tears, Nobby Stiles with his little jig of a dance, and Moore carried on the shoulders of team-mates who knew better than anyone how immense his contribution had been. Head and shoulders above them all. That was Bobby Moore.
He told us in ITV's excellent film The Boys of '66 that his only worry that day came as he climbed those famous steps to the Royal Box, looked at his grimy, sweating hands and at the Queen's immaculate white gloves. It was a handshake that probably left its mark on those royal palms that day, but it was also a day when almost anything would have been forgiven.
Bobby and his heroes were at last released by the crowd. There was a banquet at the Royal Garden Hotel and the nation hugged itself in its delight.
It could also be claimed that it was a day that paved the way for Bobby Moore to become the first footballer to climb from the playing field on to the fields of high society and showbusiness. Ever afterwards, he was as comfortable and as accepted in the company of James Bond as he was of John Bond. And he took all that in his easy, elegant stride as well.
I commentated that day in 1966 and I interviewed him many times in later years. His courtesy and good manners were a byword in our profession. And in a sport that has spawned its share of scallywags, Bobby Moore had a stature and a bearing that was never diminished.
Few matched his deportment on the field; only Pele and Beckenbauer among internationals came close to matching his dignity.
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