By 90Min
March 24, 2018

Good players come and go, great players leave their mark on the game for years to come. The greatest however, do so much more. They transcend their era, inspire future generations and take on a mantle far greater than simply a footballer.

While England have produced good and great players over the decades, one man simply stands head and shoulders above all others, rightfully earning the tag of England's greatest ever player. That man is Robert Frederick Chelsea Moore, known more fondly as Bobby Moore. 

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A centre back with the poise and elegance that many try and mimic today, Moore was considered by many as ahead of his generation when it came to the art of defending. 

His greatest attribute however was his ability to read the game. Moore had a peerless consistency when it came to tackling, making a rugged challenge look clean in execution, while his positional nous earmarks Moore as world-class in any era.

Scotland great Jock Stein, fittingly described the footballing intelligence of Moore, stating: "There should be a law against him. He knows what's happening 20 minutes before anyone else."

Whether it was with West Ham or England, Moore exuded qualities that not only made him such an icon as a defender, but also as a captain.To continually perform at such a standard with the extra pressure that comes with captaincy is something that should not be overlooked.

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It's not simply Moore's footballing attributes that stands him out as England's greatest, but what he managed to achieve whilst representing his country.


Following his final international appearance on 14th November 1973, Moore had amassed 108 caps for his country since his debut on 20th May 1962, which at the time was a national record. Now, nearly 45 years from his last international appearance, Moore still sits 5th in the all-time list of England caps.

Personal accolades can also go a long way towards measuring Moore's quality. To name but a few, Moore was a runner-up to Germany's Gerd Muller in the 1970 Ballon d'Or award, named in the 1966 World Cup All-Star Team, the FIFA World Cup All-Time Team in 1994, BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1966 (the first footballer to do so at the time), whilst perhaps most significantly for a devote Hammer, his famous No. 6 shirt was posthumously retired in 2008.

His greatest achievement in football however, one of the main reasons towards his heralded acclaim, is guiding England to their only ever World Cup success in 1966 at Wembley. 

The road to the 1966 tournament however did come with its fair share of peaks and troughs. In 1964, Moore was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Despite the diagnosis, the then 23-year-old was not perturbed by this, playing for West Ham just three months on, if ever there was an example of not only Moore's leadership credentials, but his passion for the sport. 


For the devastating low, there was a number of highs before that infamous day on 1966. Moore had two dress rehearsals of playing a final at Wembley in the two proceeding years, winning the FA Cup in 1964 and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1965 for West Ham, preparing himself for the crowning achievement in his career and English football so far.


Bobby Moore was a bastion during the tournament, with Sir Alf Ramsey knowing the importance of Moore, stating: "My captain, my leader, my right-hand man. He was the spirit and the heartbeat of the team. A cool, calculating footballer I could trust with my life. He was the supreme professional, the best I ever worked with. Without him England would never have won the World Cup."

Overseeing the progression against some tricky opposition, most notably against a Eusebio-led Portugal in the semi final, setting up the Wembley final against West Germany. One of the most famous games in the history of football, Moore rose to the occasion like the greatest seem to do on the biggest of stages.

(You may also be interested in World Cup Countdown: 13 Weeks to Go - Football's Coming Home, the Story of the 1966 Final)

Putting in a colossal performance during the 4-2 win, Moore's defensive capabilities were on full display, constantly quelling German attacks. The final also showcased Moore's incredible footballing brain to prove why he was indeed world-class.

Moore's first instance was the quickness of thought from a free kick to find the head of Hammers teammate Geoff Hurst to equalise in the first half. The second moment came in the final minutes of extra time. With England 3-2 in front, most defenders would find the cliche 'Row Z' and hold onto their lead. Instead, Moore exhibited composure and produced a terrific pass from the edge of his area to find Hurst, leaving him to complete his hat-trick and cap off the most famous game in England's history.

Moore would eventually die aged 51 in 1993 after his battle with bowel and liver cancer. While the footballing world mourned the passing of a genuine icon, Brazil legend Pele found the words that did Moore justice both on and off the field, stating: 


"He was my friend as well as the greatest defender I ever played against. The world has lost one of its greatest football players and an honourable gentleman."

It is a testament to Moore that the icon is still so poignantly remembered, whether it's memories of 1966 such as images in the vivid red lifting the Jules Rimet and wiping his hand before shaking hands with the Queen, to the present and the Bobby Moore fund to help support those suffering with bowel cancer. 

There is no question that Bobby Moore deservedly sits at the top of the tree when it comes to England's greatest and perhaps the greatest way to immortalise England's greatest is with the inscription that sits underneath his statue outside Wembley that reads:

"Immaculate footballer. Imperial defender. Immortal hero of 1966. First Englishman to raise the World Cup aloft. Favourite son of London's East End. Finest legend of West Ham United. National Treasure. Master of Wembley. Lord of the game. Captain extraordinary. Gentleman of all time."

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