World Cup Hammers

Welcome to part one of a brand new feature on whufc.com this summer, as we look back at West Ham United players who have made appearances at the World Cup finals, beginning with the first Hammer ever to play in the tournament...

When Ron Greenwood called him into his office ahead of a club summer trip to Rhodesia and Nigeria, Bobby Moore had no idea that he was about to become the first-ever West Ham United player to represent the club at a World Cup finals tournament.

"You won't be coming with us on tour," the stern-faced Hammers' boss mischievously told his perplexed, uncapped 21-year-old star in the making, before breaking into a smile. "Walter Winterbottom wants you to go with him to Chile!"

Moore, a late, late, surprise call-up for the 1962 finals recalled: "I thought that it would just be an experience to train with the England players, see them play against some of the best teams in the world and generally be with them preparing for a tournament."

Having seen him perform admirably for both West Ham United and the England Under-23 side, however, Winterbottom had other ideas.

Indeed, Mooro was handed the first of his 108 caps - still an outfield England record - on May 20, 1962, when he stepped out for the warm-up match against Peru in Lima, where a hat-trick from future Hammer Jimmy Greaves eased the Three Lions to a comfortable 4-0 victory.

"Walter was pleased with the defensive performance and kept virtually the same team for the World Cup," recalled the delighted central defender in his authorised biography Bobby Moore.

Although Hammers' 1960s winger, Peter Brabrook, had played for England in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, he had been on Chelsea's books at the time.
Mooro's subsequent outing in the Group Four opener against Hungary, therefore, was the inaugural appearance by a West Ham United player at the finals.

Despite having acclimatised high in the Chilean mountains for 10 days beforehand, Ron Flowers' penalty was still not enough for a Winterbottom side that endured a 1-2 defeat against the Magyars.

Moore retained his place for the second match, though, and another Flowers' penalty plus strikes from Greaves and Bobby Charlton set up a 3-1 victory over Argentina.

Needing only a draw to qualify for the quarter-finals, England found themselves up against a Bulgarian side looking to avoid an embarrassing hat-trick of group defeats. Almost inevitably, a goalless draw ensued.

"They played with nine men in their half and once we knew what they were up to, we kept nine players in our half, too. It was one of the worst internationals of all time," conceded Mooro, who then found himself lining up against Brazil in Vina Del Mar with just four full caps to his name.

And although Gerry Hitchens wiped out Garrincha's opener, the brilliant Brazilian was in irresistible mood. After Vava restored the lead, the legendary 'Little Bird' struck again to clinch a 3-1 win for the eventual champions.

"I felt we were doing well against them," insisted Moore, who was back in blighty by the time the reigning champions saw off the challenge of Czechoslovakia in the final to claim back-to-back tournament victories.

"But when we fell behind again, we had to push forward for the equaliser and Garrincha just used the space to take another goal off us. It was like taking candy. Goodnight!"

He had gone to Chile as an untried international novice. And he had proudly returned to Upton Park with those five full caps after playing in every match down South America way.

Mooro's personal joy had been tempered by England's quarter-final exit. But at least he had 1966 to look forward to…

by Steve Blowers, author of Nearly Reached The Sky - West Ham United 1989-2005, available now in the club store.