Known as the ‘golden boy of English football’, Bobby Moore was captain of the national team that defeated West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley Stadium, to give England its only World Cup title to date. Bobby Moore was born in Barking, Essex in 1941 and played football from childhood. He made his debut with West Ham United in 1958 and by 1964 was England’s captain, a position he would hold for ninety games. With West Ham, he won the FA Cup in 1964 (when he was named England’s ‘Footballer of the Year’), and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1965.
World Cup campaign
Moore’s moment in history came with the 1966 World Cup campaign, during which he established himself as a world-class player and a sporting icon. In the final of the competition, calm as always, he orchestrated a spectacular win for his team, personally giving his opponents the coup de grâce in the last seconds by coolly passing the ball almost forty metres, while under immense German pressure, to his colleague Geoff Hurst to score the fourth goal in the 4-2 victory.
Calmness in Victory
Leading his team to meet Queen Elizabeth II to receive the trophy, Moore stopped just metres from the monarch and cleaned his sweaty, muddy hands on the tablecloth under the trophy.
One journalist famously said that Moore “could hardly run, couldn’t turn, couldn’t head a ball, and had no left foot. But he was the world’s greatest defender. He had a better head on his shoulders than any of the others.” Moore was a genius at reading the game, his eyes calmly scanning the field like a radar. He seemed to make tackles without even touching the opposing player, and his uncanny positional sense made him the master of the interception. Not a naturally gifted player, he turned himself into one of the best through sheer will power and an obsessive dedication to training.
Moore’s Footballing Peak
Moore’s most famous game, however, was actually four years later, in the 1970 World Cup in a match against Brazil. During a majestic defensive performance, the footballer’s surgical-like precision was seen in a brilliant tackle on Jairzinho, which — according to The Times — looked like “Superman stopping a train.” The tackle is still shown on TV around the world.
Moore’s life after retirement in 1977 was disappointing and difficult. Football management and business ventures ended in failure. His long marriage collapsed. The football establishment largely ignored him, and drinking became a problem. Recognition finally came his way with various awards, but only after his death in 1993. A statue was erected to him outside Wembley Stadium in 2007. The inscription is a perfect summary of his sporting life: “Immaculate footballer. Imperial defender. [...] National Treasure.[...] Lord of the Game. Captain Extraordinary. Gentleman of all time.”