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Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 23:39 GMT 00:39 UK
Football's quiet knight

By Jonathan Stevenson

Trevor Brooking in his England heyday

Sir Trevor Brooking admits he is amazed to find himself in such esteemed company after being knighted in the Queen's birthday honours list.

Brooking, already a recipient of an MBE and an OBE, joins such illustrious names as Sir Stanley Matthews and Sir Bobby Charlton in the list of footballing knights.

But the 55-year-old knows his place is largely reliant upon his work as a sports administrator and not for his illustrious career with West Ham United and England.

"This is a wonderful honour and a huge privilege. My family and I are very excited by the news," said Brooking.

"My whole life has been about sport, as a footballer, as a broadcaster and as an administrator.

"When you look at some of the other people from football who have been knighted I feel privileged to be in the same company.

This is not something me or my family could have envisaged when I was growing up in the East End
Sir Trevor Brooking

"There are some great names there, but I am also conscious that the honour is really for my Sport England work."

Brooking began his football career at West Ham and finished it at Upton Park too - a phenomenon now almost unheard of, and an impressive display of allegiance to the club he loved.

An inventive midfielder, Brooking, who lives in Shenfield, Essex, made his Upton Park debut as an 18-year-old and went on to make over 600 appearances, scoring more than 100 goals before retiring in 1984.

He will best be remembered in a claret and blue jersey for the stooping headed winner in the 1980 FA Cup final that earned the Hammers a 1-0 victory over Arsenal

He also picked up 47 England caps from four different managers, netting four times for his country in the process and appearing in the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain.

After hanging up his boots Brooking decided to follow two different paths, almost immediately joining the BBC as a broadcaster and being appointed to the Sports Council - now Sport England - in 1989.

FOOTBALL'S KNIGHTS
Sir Walter Winterbottom
Sir Alf Ramsey
Sir Matt Busby
Sir Bobby Charlton
Sir Stanley Matthews
Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Tom Finney
Sir Geoff Hurst
Sir Bobby Robson
Sir Trevor Brooking

His reputation in the two separate spheres could scarcely have been more contrasting.

When commentating on the game he graced, Brooking came across as almost pragmatically neutral, never wishing to look in any way biased and delivering his point of view in uncontentious yet thoughtful fashion.

Yet ask those who had the misfortune to displease him during his period at Sport England - he was chairman between 1998 and 2002 - and they will suggest he was rather more ruthless and unforgiving.

Brooking was an outspoken critic of the government and its funding of sport in this country, though he himself was reprimanded by a Parliamentary inquiry into Sport England's funding of the new Wembley Stadium.

Having quit Sport England in 2002 he became more involved as a director at West Ham, and in April 2003 when manager Glenn Roeder suffered a blocked blood vessel in his brain, Brooking took over as caretaker-boss.

He won two and drew one during the Hammers' run-in, but it was not enough to avoid relegation to Division One.

When Roeder was sacked last August Brooking took over again, racking up seven wins and three draws from 11 games at the helm before making way for Alan Pardew.

Brooking finally cut his ties with West Ham in November, taking on the role of director of football development at the Football Association, handing him control of coaching and development at all levels.

Bolton boss Sam Allardyce quickly blasted the appointment, claiming Brooking does not have the "Uefa Pro Licence or the Uefa Pro Licence Diploma, qualifications that every coach is required to have."

But the FA stood firm, steadfast in their belief that they had selected the right man to carry the game forward.



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