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Our journey home from Bournemouth yesterday was just about underway when an alert on my phone informed me that former West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich City, Sheffield United and England midfielder Martin Peters MBE had sadly passed away at the age of 76.

Peters never wore the claret and blue of Burnley but, while only just over eight years older than me, his passing yesterday took away a part of my youth and that England team who won the World Cup back in 1966.

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He was new to the England set up. He’d only made his debut just before the tournament got underway but he won a place in the team alongside his West Ham team mates Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst. While they, as captain and hat trick hero, took the plaudits, the name of Peters could have been that of the England hero but for a late equaliser from West German Wolfgang Weber.

Had Weber not scored in the 89th minute, there would have been no extra time, there would have been no Hurst hat trick. England would have won the final 2-1 and Peters would have been lauded as the player who scored the winning goal.

A player described as being ten years ahead of his time by Sir Alf Ramsey, he went on to have a distinguished career. He won 67 England caps, scoring twenty goals, and for the four clubs mentioned above he made over 720 league appearances, just over 300 of them for West Ham before a short and unsuccessful spell as Sheffield United brought his football career to an end.

That description from Ramsey was more than appropriate and as one journalist said on television this morning, he was perhaps fifty years ahead of his time as a player who would fit perfectly into today’s football. He was likened mostly to Kevin de Bruyne of current players and that in itself is a big, big compliment.

Footballers from those days found jobs after their careers were finished and Peters worked in insurance while also become a match day ambassador at the Boleyn Ground for West Ham home games until sadly, he began to suffer with dementia. He passed away peacefully in his sleep yesterday morning.

There is no doubt, he was one of the best players around in his time and proved to be a key player for England for many years.

Yesterday was another sad day to see a fifth of that England World Cup winning team leave us and our thoughts are with his wife Kath, children Leeann and Grant, his grandchildren, family and friends.

 

The photograph shows Peters (2nd from left) with Roger Hunt, Nobby Stiles, Alan Ball, Jack & Bobby Charlton at a 40th anniversary dinner in 2006.

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