The story of West Ham United and the FIFA World Cup took off in the 1960s with the golden trio of Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst playing key roles in the glory of 1966 on home soil. All three shone for England in the Wembley final, with captain Moore surely having had little idea of what was to come four years later when he became the first Hammer to play at a finals at Chile 1962.
When Ron Greenwood called him into his office ahead of Hammers' summer trip to Africa, Bobby Moore had no idea that he was about to become the first 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, Moore was handed the first of his 108 caps on 20 May 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.
Although Hammers winger Peter Brabrook had played for England in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden when Harry Hooper was named in the initial party but failed to go to the finals, he had been on Chelsea's books at the time. Moore's subsequent outing in the Group Four opener against Hungary, therefore, was the inaugural appearance by a West Ham player at the finals.
Despite having acclimatised high in the Chilean mountains for ten days beforehand, Ron Flowers' penalty was still not enough for a Winterbottom side that endured a 2-1 defeat against the Maygars.
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 Moore, who then found himself lining up against Brazil in Vina Del Mar with just four full caps to his name.
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.
He had gone to Chile as an untried international novice but he had proudly returned to Upton Park with those five full caps after playing in every match in South America. Moore's personal joy had been tempered by England's quarter-final exit. But at least he had 1966 to look forward to.
He had already climbed Wembley's 39 steps to collect the FA Cup and European Cup Winners Cup trophies in successive seasons. And now Moore was hoping to make it a sensational hat-trick as England hosted the 1966 World Cup.
"Alf Ramsey had the tournament all mapped out," Moore said. "He knew the players and the matches needed to win the World Cup and then he went and blurted out that we would win it.
"The manager took stick from his critics but the spirit in the camp had been good from way back. We believed we had a great chance, Alf believed in us and we all thought would show them that we could do it."
England, however, unconvincingly stuttered through their Group One matches against Uruguay (0-0), Mexico (2-0) and France (2-0) and there were worries over facing an antagonistic Argentina in the quarter-finals.
Superbly marshalled by their unshakable skipper, England had yet to concede a goal and despite the ten-man, South Americans' heavy handed approach, Peters' pinpoint cross enabled Hurst to head the Three Lions into the semi-finals. Peters had only come into the England picture just before the finals and was not even certain he would be in the final 22, although he never looked back after coming in against Mexico.
"Those two knew each other's play by instinct," Moore acknowledged after seeing a decider designed at Chadwell Heath and executed at Wembley secure a semi-final showdown with Portugal. "It was a priceless goal and taught people the value of having good club understandings in the England team.
"Now at last the newspapers thought we could win the thing and the crowd were in there with us, too, sensing we were on the verge of a World Cup final."
And although Eusebio's late penalty finally broke that impressive run of clean sheets, Bobby Charlton's earlier double salvo had booked that place in the final against the West Germans.
After Hurst wiped out Helmut Haller's early opener, Peters then looked to have secured victory, only for Wolfgang Weber to force a late 2-2 draw and extra time. The midfielder did not dwell on the fact he was almost the man to have won the World Cup for West Ham, although he described the goal as an "unbelievable" feeling. "It was as though somebody had struck a bolt of lightning through me," he added.
Ramsey tried to lift the spirits of his drained troops, famously telling them: 'You've won it once, now go and win it again.'
"Alf was right and we went out and overpowered the Germans," observed Moore, who saw Hurst bag his legendary hat-trick in that famous 4-2 win. For the striker, it was the controversial second goal of his treble that still stands out today.
"I had made my run marginally too early, and the ball was going behind me so I had to control it, take a second touch and then. . . bang!" Hurst remembered. "I had the worst view in the stadium because I had fallen over, so I was sitting on my backside when the ball came down off the West Germans' crossbar. I was thinking: 'Is it or isn't it?"
"I still believe today that it was a goal even though the film is inconclusive. I'll never change my mind about that."
His captain Moore then played a part in the historic hat-trick with a last-gasp, ice-cool, upfield pass. "That was another West Ham job - a diamond of a goal," the skipper remembered.
Hurst had been propelled towards World Cup stardom with a good display in a February friendly against West Germany and a club season that produced 40 goals in 59 outings. At the finals, he missed the group stage but came into his own in the Argentina game and did not look back after the winner. Still the only man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final, he was knighted for his efforts.
It was Moore, though, who rightly had the honour of becoming the first Englishman to collect the golden, 14-inch high, Jules Rimet trophy.
Fittingly voted the Outstanding Player of the Tournament, the imperious Moore was not being conceited - just honest - when he concluded: "I enjoyed the World Cup so much and you can only do that if you know you're doing well.
"Sometimes your team can win a trophy but you feel you could have done better personally. A player knows best of all when he's on top of his job and, looking back, I can't recall putting a foot wrong. What more can I say?"