Matthew Upson has said goodbye to the No6 shirt with "a bit of sadness" but plenty of pride at being the last to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Bobby Moore.
The defender wore the six for the last time in the first half of Saturday's 1-1 draw with Villarreal at the Boleyn Ground before it was permanently substituted forever by West Ham United in honour of Moore's legacy. With a look over his shoulder and a wave, Upson descended down the tunnel wearing the prized digit for the final time. He then reappeared wearing the No15 with Bobby's widow Stephanie Moore MBE just before the second half before handing over the now retired number.
"It was good," Upson told WHUTV of a day that marked 50 years since Moore's debut and began with a minute's applause in his honour. "I enjoyed the first half and handed the shirt over at half-time and I feel very proud to do so." When asked whether he had the occasion on his mind as he focused on the first half, he added: "I had a sense that the crowd were here to show their appreciation for Bobby Moore and to see the shirt get retired in his name. Everybody showed a lot of respect and came to support him."
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Upson was in good form in that first half, weighing in with plenty of strong tackles and some defensive headers. After one season wearing the No6, he admitted to a little bit of sentimentality at parting with it. "There is definitely a bit of sadness at handing it over. I will miss wearing the number. It has been a great honour but we move on. We have retired the shirt and quite rightly so in honour of Bobby Moore. We move on and let's make sure No15 is a good number for me."
The 29-year-old England international also reminded of the great work done by the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research and his manager Alan Curbishley, a previous wearer of the famed No6, summed up the importance of the day. "It is great recognition for perhaps for the most famous player connected with West Ham. The Bobby Moore Fund is getting stronger every year and we hope today's game has pushed it on a little further." Click here to read about the Fund.