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Last Updated: Friday, 11 May 2007, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
The making of an English gentleman
By Tom Geoghegan
BBC News Magazine

Bobby Moore
Every time England crash out of a football tournament, the reputation of the late Bobby Moore is fortified just a little bit more. Now a statue of the man has been unveiled outside the new Wembley Stadium.

Few figures have transcended sport in the same way as Bobby Moore.

The sight of him holding the Jules Rimet trophy aloft on 30 July 1966 is one of the enduring images of that decade, instantly recognisable to those who have never paid any interest in football.

Moments earlier, millions watched as he climbed the Wembley steps, wiping his hand on his shorts so he could offer a clean handshake to the Queen. In that moment his mythic status as an English gentleman was sealed.

Looking back now, the image of the handsome captain in the red shirt evokes a lost age of innocence, grace, hard work and, above all, sporting success.

A statue of Moore, who died in 1993 aged 51, is to be unveiled at the new Wembley Stadium on Friday. Decades after English football's greatest hour, his hold on a nation's affection seems undiminished. Why?

It's about time the gesture was made with this statue but he should have had a knighthood
Alan Mullery
Ex-England and Fulham

Alan Mullery, who played with Moore for England and Fulham, says his appeal in and outside the game stems simply from his talent and decency.

"He was a great fella and footballer and a lovely man. If he walked in the room everyone knew he was an England captain. He had that sort of charisma. And he had a wicked sense of humour.

"It's about time the gesture was made with this statue but he should have had a knighthood. But it wouldn't have bothered him in the least, he would have laughed at it."

There was little evidence of his world class talent when the East End boy showed promise, if not outrageous talent, as a young footballer and cricketer in the 1950s.


A career at West Ham and three World Cup finals later, came the recognition from peers like Pele and Franz Beckenbauer that here was one of the greatest - and certainly one of the most graceful - defenders ever to play the game. But while both Pele and Beckenbauer became major figures in world football after hanging up their boots Moore struggled in his post-playing days.

Bobby Moore statue
The statue in its sculptor's studio and, inset, at Wembley
After ending his playing days in England at Fulham in 1977, Moore wrote to the FA to express an interest in the England manager's job when a vacancy became available - but never received a reply.

His first league coaching role came six years later at Southend but he spent three years there without success. These were the days when former players, however successful, needed to find second careers.

He then worked for the Sunday Sport and Capital Gold Radio before his death from bowel cancer, which sparked a media campaign calling for his posthumous knighthood. There was an outcry that his talents were wasted after he retired and his Westminster Abbey memorial service resembled a state occasion.

Even the Football Association's Sir Trevor Brooking has admitted he should have been honoured earlier: "Bobby's contribution to football and history has sadly only been recognised after his premature death."

In Moore's day the gulf between the FA and the players was a wide one, neatly illustrated by a story he told his close friend, the BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce.

Jonathan Pearce
He made footballers around him and everyone he met feel special
Jonathan Pearce
Moore was in Czechoslovakia in 1963, captaining England for the first time, when the heat of the hotel drove him to sleep outside on a park bench. When some FA officials walked through the park in the morning, they failed to recognise the England captain and asked the police to move the "vagrant" on.

Unlikely to happen nowadays, says Pearce dryly. He thinks Moore should have been given a figurehead role to use his charisma to promote the game internationally, or as a junior coach.

"He had a common touch and treated princes and paupers exactly the same. When we were travelling on trains and everyone wanted to talk to him about football, he didn't mind. He made footballers around him and everyone he met feel special. He was interested in everyone and everything they had to say."

Bobby Moore at Fulham
Moore and Mullery, right, at Fulham
He was neglected, Pearce believes, because the establishment was suspicious about his business connections and there were lingering doubts about his arrest for allegedly stealing a bracelet in Colombia in 1970. That accusation was later revealed to be groundless.

There was also a resistance by English football to invoke the past glories of the 66 team because it was believed more success was around the corner.

His humility and stoicism have been recognised more since his death, says Pearce, and he was never bitter about the riches and adulation showered on the players that followed in his footsteps.

"He was far too nice to be a football manager, too gentle. Only once did he ever criticise anyone within the game. He had this extraordinary humility and grace about him."

I think there's a lot of guilt involved in our relationship with Bobby Moore
Jim White
Daily Telegraph
Such affection won't ever be felt for a footballer again because the sport has become more money-driven and there's a distance between the players and the fans, says Pearce.

Moore's widow Stephanie says he had been hugely popular with the public while he was alive, but the outpouring of grief surprised her.

"What was very supportive was that the entire nation mourned and it was only then that I realised what a legend he was. If he knew it he never let on. I'm warmed that people should feel so emotional about that. It shows how much they appreciated Bobby."

She set up a bowel cancer charity in his memory and it has so far raised 9m, with two "Race for Moore" events coming up in the summer.

Moore with first wife Tina and daughter Roberta
Moore with first wife Tina and daughter Roberta, in November 1966
She says that despite the media stories about him being neglected in retirement, they had a wonderful life together, although it was tragically cut short 14 years after they met. And he never expressed any regrets.

"He didn't get the breaks he should have got, the opportunities a man of his stature should have had.

"But he had a full life. I did ask him how he felt about it. He said that relative to the time the game had given him a very good standard of living. And he achieved things which men and boys would have given their right arms for."

The legend of Bobby Moore has grown with every failure of his successors in the national team, says Jim White of the Daily Telegraph. And his early death meant he never seemed to grow old, which adds to his allure.

Stephanie and Bobby Moore
Moore never mentioned his popularity, says second wife Stephanie
"The 60s was a time of great forward-thinking. They were washing away the austerity and the grime of the 50s in culture, music and fashion.

"Bobby Moore was an easy symbol for that. He was one of the figures of the 1960s, the easy way in which modernity was washing away the grit of the past. He looked handsome and elegant in that kit and he smiled modestly."

The fascination is also driven by regret that his talents were "scandalously squandered".

"I think there's a lot of guilt involved in our relationship with Bobby Moore," says White, "and a realisation that we should have treasured him at the time, so maybe we are compensating for that now."

A selection of your comments appears below.

I fell in love with Bobby Moore in the 60's, when I was a young teenager. I was privileged to watch the '66 win, and collected pictures of him just as girls did of pop stars at the time. In 1993, after having moved to Canada several years earlier, I returned to UK for a trip, only to be greeted with the news of my adored one's death. I was so devastated that my whole trip was spent in mourning and grief. This man was an icon, a good man and not like the so called "heroes" of today's game. He didn't seek millions of $$$, he didn't air his dirty laundry in public, and he never brought shame to the sport. What a difference a generation makes. I still love Bobby Moore, I still have the video of the 1966 final, and I still have some pictures in my "secret box". How I miss him. The statue is long overdue, yes Wembley should be the Bobby Moore Stadium, and today's yobs should learn how a true gentleman should behave. Blessing to Stephanie, I do hope she is happy.
Sally, Comox Valley, BC, Canada

When I lived in Barkingside Essex and supported West Ham, he would often arrive to buy a paper for the results just as we got back on a Saturday. He always responded to the questions of we 16-year-olds about the match. A little later he could be found in a local pub in Chigwell having a quiet drink. He was always left alone with who ever he was with but would acknowledge any person who spoke to him. He was then the World Cup winning Captain. You would never get near a mediocre player these days let alone be acknowledged.
Alastair White, Barnard Castle

I'm Scottish and despite the rivalry I don't think you'd find a single Scot who genuinely dislikes the man. Then again England always squanders their football talent - would that Scotland had that luxury. Postumous knighthoods though? Bit tacky isn't it? Remember the man for what he was, not for what people want to make him into.
John, Leicester

I was nine years old in 66, what a year! The excitement, colour and enthusiasm were everywhwere. You couln't avoid being inpressed by the personalities involved, the efforts that were made and the goals that were scored. Despite all this what impressed me most, even as a young lad, was a calm, blond haired man, who always seemed to do his job. We(the lads) called him "The wall". He never let anything pass him, or at least it seemed that way to us. I live abroad now and have become less interested in football over the years but in addition to "Bobby" wiping his hands on his shorts and holding up the trophy with the rest of the "lads" what i remember most is a man with a calm and gentle expression who always did his jobb and gave the impression that he could be relyed on. Thanks, not to a great hero, legend or even footballer but to a great exsample!
Ian Siggers, Nannestad. Norway

I met Bobby Moore in the airport at Labuan in Malaysia in the early 80's. I think he was playing with an Australian touring side. Labuan was the end of the earth - but Bobby made it seem somewhere rather special. If the FA had any style they would call rename Wembley the Bobby Moore Stadium.
Paul Wood, Southampton UK

Bobby Moore stands tall like other English heroes of a former age Lord Nelson & The Duke of Wellington.
Brian Kelly, Dublin, Ireland

I remember being at the Lane when (in the famous photo) Bobby Moore & Jimmy Greaves locked arms as they passed each other and did a spin in the middle of the pitch. Great moment.
Brian Stace, Golden Cross/England

Knighthood? What good is that? The statue will be the best form of remembrance for a man who was a great ambassador for English football. Not the best footballer of his day but he led the England team well.
Brian Woods, Bolton, England

I was eight when my Dad took me to Upton Park for the first time. The whole day was fabulous but one thing stands out - seeing Bobby Moore live, in the flesh and in colour. Unlike most celebrities, Bobby's stature was even greater in real-life. He became my sporting hero that day and he still is. From my seat in the Bobby Moore Stand, I've seen nobody in today's game who comes remotely close to warranting that sort of respect. A great tribute at Wembley albeit about 35 years overdue.
Gary , Chelmsford

A friend of mine, who had played for Arsenal, and I, used to have heated arguments about the merits of Bobby Moore as a player. After we watched England vs Brazil in the 1970 world cup my friend came up to me and said; "I was so wrong about Bobby Moore. He just gave the greatest display of defending in the history of football." It was true. It still is.
ben, Newquay England

Sir Arnold Lunn in his book "Come What May" presents a short list of what is and isn't sportmanship. Based on all I have read above its clear that Bobby Moore adhered to these ideas. Maybe the FA could have them posted in the locker rooms thus setting a bar to be reached for.
Tim Reinard, Long Beach, California

A lot of people don't know that Bobby had already beaten testicular cancer BEFORE he led England to World Cup victory in 1966 - it was the cruellest of fates that cancer struck again later in life. A legendary player, albeit from a different era and one which can't really be compared to the modern game, but nonetheless an all-time great. He is, after all, the man that I was named after!
Robert M, London

I met Bobby Moore while working as a server in The Four Season's Hotel, Edmonton, Alberta, in the 70s. I recognized the resemblance right away. Not realizing it was actually Booby Moore, I approached the person to comment on the resemblance, and Bobby immediately introduced himself and shook my hand. He came across as being a very genuine, friendly person. It's a meeting I have never forgotten! Richard stead
Richard Stead, Edmonton, Canada

I met Bobby Moore in the old Revolution club in Mayfair 1969. He was at the bar having a drink, came over said "Hello, haven't seen you in while" and we had a good shant. We met over the next few years in various water holes in London then I moved out of the UK. I had never known or met him previously and told him so but we had a few good cracks together.
Jimmy, Prague

I don't like football or the way we glorify the Bling Society. However I do believe that Bobby Moore was a great ambassador for this country and his modesty and dignity set him apart and streets ahead of the money-grabbing current players. Talent and grace - how proud we should all be of him. He should definitely be honoured.
Glo, Bath

I remember being in a restaurant in Cobham in the early 1990s when Bobby Moore and his wife came in. He asked for a table for two, but the restaurant was busy and the manager turned him away. He didn't make any fuss, they just left. The Italian manager asked the customers if it was Bobby Moore that he had just turned away. Realising what he had done he then chased outside to find him and offer him the last available table in the house. It was a funny moment and showed how unassuming Bobby Moore was and how he was still highly regarded even by people who weren't England supporters.
Steve Wedge, Slough

Bobby Moore should be honoured by England the way we in Northern Ireland honoured George Best. I'm a supporter of all four home nations football teams and can't understand why our world class sporting heroes are not revered more publicly ie statues at grounds etc.
Sam Lennon, Belfast

His integrity married to his natural grace and skill as a defender make him my all time sporting hero. In 1966 the English FA made 22,000 available to Sir Alf Ramsey to reward his team for winning the World Cup. This was a lot of money in those days and the question of apportioning the windfall came up at one of Sir Alf's team meetings. He said: "I've decided to give each one of you 500 & then split the balance pro-rata based on number of appearances during the tournament." The blond, quietly spoken talisman interjected. "Boss. There are 22 players in the squad. We should all have 1000." A proud manager stood up in response and said, "Bobby, I knew you'd say that." Now that's 'leadership behaviour'. Come on England!
Rob, Coventry, UK

Bobby Moore is and will always be my childhood hero. He is the reason I have supported West Ham Utd for nearly 40 years He was understated in his manner, but invoked pride in those around him. If ever there was a case for the posthumous knighthood he is the number one candidate.
Niall Squire, Cobham, UK

Looking back to better days is very common, especially when things are bad. Look at the dreadful state of English football - all those overpaid men who cannot even do what they are paid to do. They are not brain surgeons, they kick a ball around a field for goodness sake, for a couple of hours a week, nothing more. All they seem to be interested in is their lifestyle. You wouldn't mind if they were good at their job.
Susan O'Neill, London

My favourite player of all time. How we wished he had been born north of the border! I have seen every great player and maybe one, and only one, may have been as good as Bobby Moore.
Dave Mitchell, Dundee, Scotland

We shower shady and dubious politicians with honours and other awards like tainted confetti. Yet Bobby Moore, who so richly deserved a knighthood for his footballing achievements, never received one. Something stinks with the honours system in this country and Moore's omission clearly shows why.
Shaun Crowther, Barnoldswick, UK

Bobby Moore is remembered because he reminds us of how we should behave, a great player and person, George Best was a wonderful talent, but wasted. Bobby Moore represented England with aplomb in victory and defeat, this is why he will be a role model that can carry on through generations.
Tony, Milan

I am a West Ham fan but also an England fan and cannot agree more with the final comments of Jim White. We need to start to always value the talents and successes of players at club and country level as the years pass by, because it is this history that pulls in the next generation and makes them understand the importance of the game, their clubs and the England team.
Tony Gray,

My late father was a Hammers fan through and through. As an Englishman, He was very proud that it was a Hammer who collected the World Cup. The way Mooro lived was instilled into me as a kid and you cannot fail to be impressed by the man. Yes, he should have been knighted, but perhaps it's better that he wasn't, as far too many "nobodys" get gongs these days for doing nothing.
Andie Riley, Leeds, England

Knighthoods are 10 a penny. Sir Geoff Hurst!!! You must be joking. It will be Sir David Beckham next, what about Sir Bobby Moore. One of the greatest players and ambassadors to ever play the game and he is not honoured, an absolute disgrace.
Richard King, Leicester England

Bobby Moore's widow speaks at the ceremony


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