May 25 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, February 23, 2013
There can be few more overused words in the lexicon of sporting analysis than icon.
Goals, grounds, random players from all manner of teams. They are all lumped in. Everything is iconic these days.
It means the word for whom such a description is apt is devalued.
Yet how else to sum up Bobby Moore’s status within the English game, particularly when the man confirming it is someone equally deserving of the status.
“Bobby Moore is (England’s icon), and rightly so,” Sir Bobby Charlton said. “He was the captain and our leader.
“He could both read what was going to happen before it actually did.
“It was beautiful to look at him when he played. Nobody tackled him. He just oozed class.”
Charlton was stood behind Moore at the most famous moment of a life cut so tragically short by cancer 20 years ago, the moment that summed him up as, within the maelstrom of what is likely to remain England’s greatest day for some considerable time yet - Moore remembered to wipe his hands to ensure he did not dirty The Queen’s pristine white gloves as he collected the Jules Rimet Trophy.
Yet the paths of two of the three - hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst is the other - most significant figures to have ever pulled those Three Lions on their chest crossed many years before, when Charlton spotted Moore playing for England schoolboys not that long before he made his big breakthrough at West Ham.
“People were talking about Bobby when he was just 16 or 17,” said Charlton.
“He was ready for it even then, it was just a case of him fully growing into a man rather than a lad.
“He had an influence on every player. When he started at West Ham everyone knew it would only be a couple of years before he became the captain because Malcolm Allison and Ron Greenwood recognised he had a quality others in the squad wanted without ever actually being able to possess it.”
If actually lifting that little gold trophy is the lasting image of Moore, his textbook tackle on Jairzinho at the following World Cup in Mexico is almost as famous.
“TV had got better by then, so we saw more,” said Charlton.
“He was just a brilliant defender, probably cultured is the right word.
“If he had to speed up a little bit he could easily do it.
“And I never saw him head the ball. Maybe there was one match at West Ham when he scored with his head. But that is one goal in 20 years.”
It doesn’t take Hammers supporters long to remind anyone speaking of Moore that in the two years prior to that World Cup win, he also led his club to glory in the FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup.
A decade after that, he was still competent enough to be playing for Fulham against the club he gave so much service to in the 1975 FA Cup final won for West Ham by two Tommy Taylor goals.
And through it all, Moore was unflappable.
He even emerged from the ‘Bogota bracelet’ scandal in 1970 with enough composure to be part of an England squad set fair for the semi-finals until Sir Alf Ramsey opted to replace Charlton with England ahead in their quarter-final with West Germany that ultimately turned sour.
Moore’s career never reached the same heights again, even though it was November 1973 when he won the last of his 108 caps against Italy.
It seems almost shocking to now realise a decade after that, Moore was battling to stay in the Football League as manager of Southend, freezing in the dug-out at such grim locations as The Shay in Halifax.
That he was co-commentating on an England game for Capital Radio just seven days before he succumbed to bowel and liver cancer, aged just 51, underlines the dereliction of duty of all those in positions of authority within the game at that time.
“Bobby is not with us any more but he left us with lots of memories,” said Charlton.
“He was a true great, a really clever person and an absolute pleasure to play with.
“Sometimes when we played West Ham with Manchester United we used to think ‘shall we put him under a bit of pressure at the back’.
“After a period of time we tended to decide it wasn’t a very good idea.
“It was better to keep out of his way.”