Sir Trevor: Ron one of the best

Sir Trevor Brooking has described the late Ron Greenwood as 'one of the best three English coaches in the last 50 years.'

Following news of the sad passing of the legendary West Ham United and England manager earlier today, Sir Trevor took time out from his busy schedule at the Football Association to speak exclusively to and paid a heartfelt tribute to the man who brought him to Upton Park as a schoolboy in the early 60s and helped nurture his development as one of the finest midfield players ever produced in this country…

"Ron was a massive influence on me in my younger years," said the FA's Director of Football Development. "First and foremost, he brought me to West Ham as a young boy. The story goes that he watched me play in an England schoolboy match and said to his chief scout Wally St Pier: 'Why is the number four not with us?'

"At that stage I was down the route of going to Chelsea but, having grown up near to Upton Park and supported the Club as a youngster, it didn't take much to change my mind when Ron approached me about joining the Hammers. It turned out to be a fantastic decision because, from a coaching point of view, he made me the player I became.

"I may be slightly biased of course, but I would go as far as to say that Ron was one of the best three English coaches in the last 50 years. He was that good, so highly respected by all of his contemporaries and the players who worked under him.

"You would have to say that the West Ham style of play was his big influence, not only on his team but also elsewhere. His major achievements in the 60s were winning the FA Cup in 1964 and the European Cup Winners' Cup a year later, but we must remember that he made a major impact on the three players who won the World Cup with England in 1966.

"Ron had turned Geoff Hurst from a midfielder into a striker a couple of years earlier, and of course he went on score a hat-trick in the final at Wembley. His first goal against West Germany was the free-kick from Bobby Moore and the near-post run, and he'd scored a similar goal against Argentina in the quarter-final. That move was perfected with the guidance of Ron on the training ground at West Ham, and we all learned so much growing up at the Club.

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"Although he was the first-team manager, Ron spent a lot of time with the youngsters who were coming up through the ranks at Upton Park, and he encouraged us all to take our preliminary coaching badges at a young age. He wanted us to understand the game and think about what we were doing.

"Ron's coaching style wasn't dictatorial - he didn't order you about or tell you to do things. Instead, he asked questions of you and wanted you to take responsibility on the field, so that you knew how to handle situations yourself rather than having to look over to the bench for guidance.

"If you had to recall a match that best summed up his style, it would be the European Cup Winners' Cup final in 1965, when we beat TSV Munich 2-0 at Wembley. It was a classic technical contest that gave West Ham United a wider audience in the game, and many foreign coaches at the time commented on how 'un-English like' Ron's team was!

"Ron's protégé, John Lyall, inherited his beliefs and qualities, and the same goes for his players. From my point of view, I spent 19 years as a player at Upton Park, with Ron and John as my only coaches during that time, yet I never became stale or unhappy. I would look forward to training, because the coaching was always fresh and enjoyable, and made you think about the game.

"Ron encouraged players to express themselves, and put in place a philosophy that has been ingrained in the Club for more than 40 years. It is easy to say that one manager's influence can't be embedded in a Club for that length of time, but that has been the challenge for all coaches and managers who have arrived at Upton Park since those days.

"Alan Pardew has certainly been conscious of that and, after the transitional trauma of the last couple of years, he now has a team who play with Ron's philosophy of attacking the game in the right way. Supporters know they can watch an exciting game and be entertained at Upton Park - and they will always acknowledge the contribution Ron Greenwood made to the Club."