Football: Sharpest tactical brain: Brian Moore on the day that Bobby Moore led England to victory in the 1966 World Cup

ON that sunlit day in July 1966, the one we all remember so well, I was sitting with Alan Clarke, my fellow radio commentator, with one of those large, old-fashioned lip microphones wrapped around our faces.

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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Senior Sales Broker - OTE £100,000

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportuni...

Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Duty Manager is required to join one of the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Team Leader is required to join one of the l...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor