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Former team-mates hail ‘absolute gentleman’ and ‘wonderful footballer’ Peters

The World Cup winner died on Saturday at the age of 76.

Martin Peters made more than 300 appearances for West Ham (PA).
Martin Peters made more than 300 appearances for West Ham (PA).

By PA Sport Staff

Martin Peters has been described as “a great person” and a “wonderful footballer” by his former West Ham team-mates.

Peters, the former West Ham and Tottenham midfielder who scored for England in their 1966 World Cup final win, died on Saturday morning aged 76 after a long battle against Alzheimer’s disease.

“Not only was he fantastic footballer, he was an absolute gentleman,” Harry Redknapp, who spent five years playing alongside Peters for the Hammers, told Sky Sports News.

“He was very quiet, very well-mannered, just a great person. A true legend.

“When you look back at 1966 and what those boys did for their country, winning the World Cup, it was a special day and they will be remembered for ever.

“When people talk about football they always remember the 1966 team and Martin, not only did he play, he scored a goal in that final.

“It was a great day for English football and he was a massive part of that.

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Harry Redknapp paid tribute to his former West Ham team-mate Martin Peters (Adam Davy/PA).

“He was a very, very modest guy, quiet, very much a family man and he was a complete, all-round footballer.

“In training some days he’d go in goal and was an incredible goalkeeper he could play centre-half. He played full-back. He could play any position.”

Sir Trevor Brooking, another former club-mate of Peters in the late 1960s, said he was “a humble man” and “a wonderful footballer”.

“Martin lived locally to us and it has been difficult for the family in recent years,” Brooking told the Mail on Sunday.

“They, I am sure, will want everyone to remember Martin for what he was: a wonderful footballer, who achieved wonderful things, and a talented goalscorer.

“More than anything though, a top-class man who was great to spend time with. A humble man. That word perhaps sums him up best.

“He never looked for the plaudits but was happy to enjoy his life. And he certainly did that.”

Brooking was progressing through West Ham’s academy when Peters and fellow Hammers greats Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst lifted the World Cup with England.

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Bobby Charlton, number nine, looks on as Martin Peters, number 16, scores in the 1966 World Cup final (PA)

“It was an honour to be a West Ham youngster in that unique period of the club’s life,” Brooking said. “Martin was at the heart of that.

“He was a lovely, approachable man, who always made time for people.

“He was quiet, did not look too much for the limelight. He was someone who thoroughly enjoyed being a part of that time.

“But I think it is only as each decade has gone by that we now, 50 years later, appreciate how amazing their achievement was.”

He was an opponent to be respected and admired. A fantastic footballer Sir Bobby Charlton

Sir Bobby Charlton, also a member of England’s World Cup-winning team, said Peters was “an opponent to be respected and admired”.

“We shared one of the greatest days of our lives at Wembley in 1966 and the fact Martin is one of only two Englishman to have scored in a World Cup final gives him a special place in England’s history of the game,” he said in a statement on the Manchester United website.

“Beyond that, for West Ham and Tottenham, he was an opponent to be respected and admired.

“He was a fantastic footballer. Sir Alf Ramsey said Martin was 10 years ahead of his time with the way he played the game and there is an element of truth to that.

“But, as a team-mate, he was someone I could trust completely to do his job and I am proud to have shared that great day with him.”

Current West Ham captain Mark Noble said Peters, along with Moore and Hurst, set “the example that we all aspired to follow”.

He added in a statement on the club website: “I’ve never really thought about the fact that Martin wore the number 16 shirt for England in the World Cup final – the same number I wear for West Ham – but it gives me immense pride to have that small link to him in some way.

“He and those 10 other men achieved something that I and every other English footballer have only ever been able to dream about. He will always be an inspiration to every young boy or girl who ever decides to kick a ball and, along with Bobby and Geoff, he will stand as the pinnacle for every academy player here at West Ham United.

“The fact that those three came through together at our club is something that we should forever be proud of. Bobby Moore will always be held up as our greatest shining light, but Martin Peters shone just as brightly.

“As long as I am fortunate enough to be captain of this football club, I will always consider it my duty to make sure that every player who pulls on the claret and blue shirt is aware of what Martin Peters means to West Ham, and I am sure those who follow me will do the same.”

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