'He was an immaculate man'

On a weekend where Bobby Moore is rightly in the hearts and minds of many, West Ham United favourite Tony Gale talks about his personal memories.

To me, Bobby Moore was footballing royalty. I had the pleasure of succeeding him at Fulham. I then succeeded him later on when I moved to West Ham and then after that, believe it or not, I succeeded him at Capital Gold radio where he used to work when he finished his footballing days. I consider myself very honoured.

In my early days at Fulham, I was an apprentice to George Best, Rodney Marsh and Bobby. Bobby didn't really say a lot. He was a quiet type of chap, he had a great sense of humour, but you just had to watch the way he conducted himself in training, the way he was and the way he played.

I tried to emulate him - I didn't get anywhere near him I might add - but he was for me the best footballing defender alongside Franz Beckenbauer ever. The way he used to play the ball out of the back with the outside and the inside of his right foot. He could also use his left foot to no mean effect as well. And when he set up attacks, he set them away with some great slide-rule passes.

He was a great reader of the game. I always call the Bobby Moore position that spot just at the near post where he used to cut balls out from wingers. Later on, people have said John Terry has invented that position but, make no mistake about it, Bobby Moore was the man who did it first.

He was a guy if you watched him in training you couldn't fail to pick little things up from him. After training for instance, he was the only one out of all the professionals who used to fold his training kit up afterwards. Everybody else used to fling dirty kit into the middle of the floor and we used to have it to pick it up as apprentices but Bobby's was folded up.

And then of course he went home in his yellow Jaguar that he had at Fulham, I was privileged to be dropped off a couple of times on the way because Bobby had to travel through Pimlico where I lived to get through to the East End. When he did drop me off at the shops around where my mum and dad lived, I always made a point of taking my time getting out of the car so everyone knew that it was Bobby Moore dropping me off.

Part of my incentive in signing as an apprentice at Fulham was to go and watch the 1975 FA Cup final against West Ham, where I would eventually end up. Of course, the West Ham players and the West Ham fans all had that respect for Bobby. West Ham ran out victors of course as everybody knows through two Alan Taylor goals and were deserved winners on the day.

I remember going to the Fulham banquet afterwards and all the West Ham players turned up from their banquet to come and have a drink with Bobby Moore. I thought that just spoke volumes for what the man was about. Five or six of the West Ham lads come away from their own celebrations to see the great Bobby. I was about 15 at the time and me and my dad were just standing there in awe of the great man. It was a fabulous night.

He was an immaculate man in every sense of the word. I don't think he ever let himself down in front of people yet he was still one of the lads. You knew where to draw the line with Bobby, especially as a young lad talking to him in the dressing room. You always had the impression that he was listening to everyone, he was always watching people. He was a great reader of people as well as the game of football. For West Ham United, Fulham and England, he was simply the best.

Tony Gale