Pele claimed he was "the best defender in the world." Alex Ferguson agreed. Franz Beckenbauer concurred. Alf Ramsay said he was "the best he ever worked with." Such were the glowing tributes for England's true Captain Marvel, twenty years before Bryan Robson came along. He was the one, the only, the blond: Bobby Moore.
Moore was not only a brilliant player; he had so many attributes which tended to transcend the game. He was, and still is even 19 years after his death, a football writer's dream. He had the skills, the looks, the locks, the eyes, the poise, the balance, the women... everything! And he was the only England captain ever to have a shiny Jules Rimet cup between the fingers he so purposefully wiped so as not to dirty the Queen's gloves when shaking hands.
What we often fail to grasp is that Moore was just 25 years old when he captained a World Cup winning side, but played with such a calm assurance, and such footballing wit, that you would have to have taken him for 10 years older. His lack of pace was certainly reminiscent of a 35-year-old veteran, but his aesthetic reading of the game ensured that he had the compensatory skills for that never to be a problem. It was these skills that earned him a record number of England caps at the time: 108.
Having played for England under-23s at just 189 in 1960, Moore broke into the England senior side with just days to spare before the 1962 World Cup in Chile, playing in every game as England reached the Quarter Finals. th following year, just past his 22nd birthday, he captained his country for the first time in a 4-2 win against Czechoslovakia. He was the youngest England skipper at that time too, and he secured the role permanently in 1964.
That same year, he collected his first FA Cup Winner's Medal, before building on that with a European Cup Winners' Cup victory in 1965. The following year would prove his biggest triumph of all. Moore ensured that the Germans would be unable to secure access to Gordon Banks' goal for large parts of the game, and - lest we forget - actually assisted two of Geoff Hurst's goals.
The first was a move born on the West Ham training ground, a quickly taken 35-yard free-kick that Hurst smartly nodded in before the Germans could get organized. The second, of course, was a 40-yard pass to Hurst in the 120th minute, which resulted in the most quoted line of football commentary ever from Kenneth Wolstenholme.
Four years later, Moore would play his finest England matches, the highlight coming in the "Real Final" of the 1970 World Cup: the unforgettable group game against eventual champions Brazil. Moore not only kept Pele reasonably quiet, but also produced what has been described as the "perfect tackle" on Brazil's top scorer Jarzinho. These brilliant performances came, of course, after he was arrested on trumped up accusations of trying to steal a bracelet - widely considered as a deliberate ploy to unsettle England before their campaign. (The locals loathed Ramsey's men).
The remainder of Moore's career took in numerous honors: 100 England caps, the first footballer on This is Your Life, West Ham's appearance record and an FA Cup Final appearance against West Ham for new club Fulham in 1975. Spells in American and Denmark followed, before the predictable disastrous management career that seemed to befall everyone of Ramsey's legends.
Having been cured of testicular cancer prior to the 1966 World Cup, Moore succumbed to bowel and liver cancer in 1993 and became the first of Ramsey's boys to pass away. The Bobby Moore fund, set up by his second wife, continues to raise funds for cancer research in numerous ways, and is supported by a number of high profile sportsmen.