Bobby Moore: The Complete Man

I’ve read many football-related autobiographies and biographies over the years, gaining a better understanding of the careers of some of the game’s best-known faces. I remember going to a local charity shop and having bought a lot of autobiographies when I was 17. One book in particular I wanted to read detailed the life of England’s most respected captain, a man who displayed excellent leadership skills and cemented a divine legacy in London’s East End.

That man was, of course, former West Ham United and England captain Bobby Moore. Moore was a dominant force on the pitch, never afraid to engage in a tackle or order his teammates to tighten up their gameplay. Loyal Hammers fans saw the prolific No 6 as a gentleman who had the whole footballing world in horror for him – but he wasn’t the same person away from the limelight.

Bobby Moore: The Complete Man is the work of sports journalist Matt Dickinson. Dickinson carefully and explicitly examines Moore’s attributes and personality as a player, citing former teammates, authors and coaches. However, he provides a stark and clear contrast to the man West Ham fans have come to adore. Dickinson portrays a reclusive man who struggled with marital and legal issues, as well as a player who gradually became dissatisfied with many staff members.

On plain paper, 1966 was a triumphant year for Moore. Not only did he steer England to World Cup glory on home soil, he also won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. Winning football’s biggest prize meant the England captain was on par with Eusebio, Beckenbauer and Pele. These are incredible achievements, considering Moore was only 25 and playing for a lesser-known team at West Ham.

However, Dickinson suggests Moore played for West Ham with great reluctance at times. A strong example of this attitude was shown in the months leading up to this unforgettable summer. Moore developed a strong social life and frequently attended team meetings in pubs near the stadium. He began sneaking out of hotel rooms to drink at local bars, often filling train carriages with cans of lager for trips away. Although Sir Alf Ramsey praised Moore, Ron Greenwood began to notice negative effects on his captain’s weekly performance. Greenwood decided to strip Moore of the armband, much to the shock of the media. Moore looked likely to leave West Ham – something he had tried to force before.

Dickinson provides a balanced argument regarding Moore’s and Greenwood’s responses to what was considered drastic action. He implies that Moore had mixed emotions at the time; he was longing for a move to Tottenham Hotspur, but he needed a contract to go to the World Cup. Dickinson ultimately concludes that Moore signed a one-month contract with West Ham solely to fulfill his World Cup dream. Winning the World Cup helped further understand how much he meant to his boyhood club, and he signed a longer contract.

Elimination from the 1970 World Cup in Mexico proved to be the start of a downfall in Moore’s career. Greenwood noticed that Moore had started gaining weight, becoming less technical, and not getting any younger. Moore also began to falter internationally and eventually gave up for good, making his last appearance against Italy in November 1973. Moore left West Ham a year later to join Fulham and ended his playing days. game in the United States.

Moore’s contributions on the pitch were there for all to see, but he wasn’t the serious, head-in-the-game defender that people might remember him for. The book dives deep into her character and her roles within her family. As Moore’s career developed, his wife and children grew accustomed to the trials and tribulations of having a famous footballer in their lives.

Dickinson paints a portrait of a married couple who have gone through many emotions and challenges, primarily because of Bobby’s playing career. He describes the celebrity status the couple achieved after the World Cup, experiencing the high life of the 1960s. From dining with Sean Connery to meeting Frank Sinatra, the Moores seemed to live like royalty – at least, outsiders thought so.

Tina gives personal insight into her relationship with Bobby, and she thinks his calm personality was a protective shield against criticism. Moore was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1965 and had a testicle removed, but Tina and Moore’s closest teammates attest that he never spoke about it. Dickinson writes that Moore feared being seen as weak or unfit to play, so he played through the pain as a result. Moore returned to full health after undergoing surgery; however, the author notes that radiation therapy may have caused Moore to develop bowel cancer 27 years later.

Moore’s second battle with cancer was tougher and more aggressive than the first. Friends and reporters didn’t hear about Moore’s cancer until late 1992 to early 1993. Moore spent a few weeks with friends across the country, but they didn’t realize he was doing bids farewell. Moore admitted he had bowel cancer in February 1993 and died shortly thereafter. He was 51 years old.

Moore’s longtime West Ham teammates and other internationals, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, can be considered Moore’s best friends during their time at West Ham. A statue near the former site of the Boleyn Ground features the England trio, showing them lifting the World Cup trophy high. However, Hurst does not discuss the fond memories with the leader of his club and country. A new statue was unveiled next to the London Stadium at the end of 2021.

Hurst remembers only one time when he and Moore shared celebrations after a win. Hurst says he was sitting in the dressing room after a Premier League game when Moore approached to congratulate Hurst on goals. The striker admits he was surprised but delighted to hear such praise from Moore, and didn’t know how to react.

Hurst remembers only one time when he and Moore shared celebrations after a victory. Hurst says he was sitting in the dressing room after a Premier League game when Moore approached to congratulate Hurst on goals. The striker admits he was surprised but delighted to hear such praise from Moore.

Moore deserves to have his name in English football folklore because of the impact he had on the country’s game. That said, it’s easy to see the man for the footballer he was, not the person he was. This same idea can be applied to most sports personalities and celebrities; their successes in their respective industries overshadow their private lives and true feelings.

Moore has felt many difficulties throughout his career, especially due to tensions between Greenwood and himself. Dickinson’s view is that Moore often remained attached to West Ham to satisfy Ramsey or to prevent any rumors from spreading. The captain eventually left West Ham due to age and decline, but that doesn’t discount the impact he had on the pitch and helping his team win the 1964 FA Cup.

The quotes on more sum up his closed book attitude. Greenwood said he would “dry up in a minute” if asked about Moore. Sir Michael Parkinson says “you realized you knew everything about him”. That’s the exact reaction West Ham fans should expect.

Read the book, acknowledge this man’s legacy – but prepare to see a different side to England’s greatest defender.

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