Every cloud has a silver lining… Getting old is no fun, but what it does mean is that I was around as a 16-17 year old to see them all playing. Great days!
Moore and Hurst are etched indelibly into England’s football history with their achievements, but Martin Peters stands out for me as the top man. He defined the word ‘versatile’, playing in every position for the club. But more importantly, he was instrumental in developing the style which eventually took us on to World Cup success.
When he arrived on the scene as a skinny, lanky young kid, he wore the number 4 (right half) on his back. In those days that meant he played ahead of the number 2 (right back), just behind the numbers 8 (Inside right) and 7 (right winger). But it wasn’t long before Peters started his ‘blind side’ runs outside the left winger to provide Hurst with those near post crosses. It was new to the game and finally laid low the significance of shirt numbers for anything other than player identification.
He had everything, total control with either foot, superb in the air, instinctively knowing where to be and an unerring eye for goal.
I’m pretty sure it was Alf Ramsey who said Peters was 10 years ahead of his time and Allison, as an ITV pundit, who derided it after a lacklustre England display. Ramsey was right. Peters would have moved seamlessly into the great Dutch ‘total football’ team of the 70-80s.
Some great tributes to some great players on this thread, but I also think all three of them would pay their own tribute to Ronnie ‘Ticker’ Boyce whose tireless control of midfield made it all possible. Johnny Byrne’s right up there as well.
I got really exited a few years ago when I saw a youngster emerge who I thought could develop into the next Martin Peters… but Michael Carrick’s development never quite took him into the same areas.