Martin Peters: The World Cup hero who was 10 years ahead of his time

Part of the West Ham trio which helped England win the 1966 World Cup, Martin Peters was never one to seek the limelight.

Peters, who has died aged 76 following a battle with Alzheimer's, was the scorer of England's second goal at Wembley before fellow Hammer Geoff Hurst took centre stage with a hat-trick.

Indeed, it was very nearly Peters, on only his eighth appearance for his country, who had the honour of netting the winner after rifling home a deflected Hurst shot to put the hosts 2-1 up in the 78th minute. West Germany equalised in the last minute and Hurst went on score twice more in extra-time.

As the players walked up the 39 steps and England and West Ham captain Bobby Moore was presented with the Jules Rimet Trophy, Peters took a moment to wipe his hands on his shorts before meeting the Queen, not wanting to risk getting any mud on her Majesty's pristine white gloves.

Martin Peters
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Martin Peters
Martin Peters, West Ham United
West Ham United celebrate with the European Cup Winners' Cup after their 2-0 win: (back row, l-r) Alan Sealey, Martin Peters, Bobby Moore (with cup), Geoff Hurst, John Sissons and Ken Brown. (Front row, l-r) Brian Dear, Ronnie Boyce and Jack Burkett.
England's Terry Paine (l) and Martin Peters (r) who will play against Mexico, during training at Vale Farm Sports Ground.
England's Martin Peter's (l) watches teammate Bobby Charlton compete for a header.
England players celebrate reaching the World Cup Final after their 2-1 win: (l-r) Bobby Charlton, Alan Ball, Roger Hunt, Jack Charlton, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters (behind), Gordon Banks, George Cohen, Nobby Stiles, Bobby Moore, Ray Wilson
The England team to play Portugal in the World Cup semi final: (back row, l-r) trainer Harold Shepherdson, George Cohen, Martin Peters, Gordon Banks, Alan Ball, Bobby Moore, Nobby Stiles; (front row, l-r) Bobby Charlton, Roger Hunt, Geoff Hurst, Ray Wilson, Jack Charlton
(L-R) England's Martin Peters, George Cohen, Jack Charlton, Bobby Moore, Ray Wilson and Bobby Charlton parade the Jules Rimet trophy around Wembley following their 4-2 victory
The two teams line up before the match: (l-r) West Germany's Horst-Dieter Hottges, Wolfgang Overath, Siggi Held, Helmut Haller, Wolfgang Weber, Lothar Emmerich, Willi Schulz, Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, Hans Tilkowski and Uwe Seeler, linesman Tofik Bakhramov, referee Gottfried Dienst, linesman Karol Galba, England's Bobby Moore, George Cohen, Alan Ball, Gordon Banks, Roger Hunt, Ray Wilson, Nobby Stiles, Bobby Charlton, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Jack Charlton
England's Martin Peters celebrates scoring his team's second goal as teammate Geoff Hurst (l) runs to congratulate him
West Ham United and England's World Cup heroes show off the Jules Rimet trophy at the reception given by ITV for the World Champions: (l-r) goalscorer Martin Peters, captain Bobby Moore and hat trick hero Geoff Hurst
Martin Peters, England
West Ham United's World Cup winning trio of Martin Peters (l), Bobby Moore (c) and Geoff Hurst (r) show off three trophies they garnered for their play during the World Cup to a group of excited youngsters
Martin Peters, West Ham United
England's Geoff Hurst (l) smashes the ball past Northern Ireland's Terry Neil (c) to score the opening goal, watched by teammate Martin Peters (r)
West Ham's Martin Peters (left), Bobby Moore (centre) and Geoff Hurst get the feel of Tartan Turf, the new all-weather playing surface on which they will play in the United States.
England and Tottenham Hotspur players Martin Peters (left) and Allan Mullery with a fleet of Ford Cortinas
Tottenham Hotspur celebrate with the League Cup after their 2-0 victory: (back row, l-r) Martin Chivers, Peter Collins, Martin Peters, Pat Jennings, Joe Kinnear, ?, Bill Nicholson, Jimmy Pearce, Phil Beal; (front row, l-r) Alan Gilzean, Steve Perryman, Jimmy Neighbour, Alan Mullery, Cyril Knowles
Tottenham Hotspur line up before the match: (l-r) Alan Mullery, Martin Peters, Steve Perryman, Pat Jennings, Joe Kinnear, Peter Collins, Jimmy Neighbour, Alan Gilzean
England's Martin Chivers, Ralph Coates and Martin Peters take a break from training
Tottenham Hotspur captain Alan Mullery holds on to the UEFA Cup as he is carried shoulder-high by teammates Mike England (third l) and Pat Jennings (fourth r). Also celebrating victory are (l-r) Ralph Coates, Alan Gilzean, Martin Peters, Joe Kinnear, Cyril Knowles and Martin Chivers
(L-R) Tottenham Hotspur's Martin Peters and Cyril Knowles parade the League Cup on their lap of honour
Martin Peters, England
England's Emlyn Hughes (l) passes the ball forward, watched by Scotland's Billy Bremner (r) and teammate Martin Peters (l)
Members of the England football squad (from left to right) Allan Clarke, Mike Summerbee, Alan Ball, Bobby Moore and Martin Peters leaving Heathrow for Poland where they will play a World Cup qualifying match.
England's Martin Peters (c) walks out before the match
Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson (c) catches a cross under pressure from Tottenham Hotspur's Martin Peters (r), watched by teammate Bob McNab (front) and Tottenham Hotspur's Alan Mullery (l)
Martin Peters (left), recalled to the England side for the home international against Scotland at Hampden Park, Glasgow, finds "caretaker" manager Joe Mercer in cheerful mood at the Kilmarnock ground. On the right is Frank Worthington.
Martin Peters, Norwich City
1966 World Cup Soccer stars England's Martin Peters (right) and Germany's Siegfried Held get their heads together over a soccer related question during the recording of Radio Five Live quiz to go on air the eve of World Cup 1998. (The ball is 1989 World Cup replica). Photo by Rebecca Naden/PA.
(L-R) Martin Peters and Sir Geoff Hurst at Wembley Stadium in London, to unveil the latest Royal Mail Millennium Stamp. The stamp pays tribute to the late Bobby Moore and England's historic World Cup victory in 1966. * The stamp features an illustration of the then England captain, Bobby Moore holding aloft the Jules Rimet Trophy at Wembley Stadium, when England won the World Cup.
Sir Geoff Hurst (left) and Martin Peters, with a replica of the 1966 world cup, say farewell to Wembley, on the eve of the final match to be played there, which happens to be an England v Germany clash repeating the fixture of the 1966 World Cup Final. * in which both played a key part in England's infamous win.
Sir Geoff Hurst the hat-trick scoring hero of the 1966 World Cup final and the other goal scorer Martin Peters (R), with a replica trophy at the launch of the National Lottery Instants scratchcard game 'Game of Two Halves' in central London. * ... on the 35th anniversary of their famous victory over West Germany .
Former England world cup winner Martin Peters unveils the new England away kit, at the Science Museum, London, as part of the Science of Sport exhibition.
General view of the "Champions" statue located at the top of Green Street not far from Upton Park. This features Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson holding Bobby Moore aloft.

A silver-service banquet for Alf Ramsey's triumphant squad followed at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington.

But, after the formalities were over, rather than heading off to hit the capital's trendy nightspots, Peters instead had a quiet cup of tea with his wife Kathleen, whom he had first met at a Dagenham bowling alley when they were teenagers.

Just as on the field, Peters was happy for others to enjoy their moment of glory, content in the knowledge it was one he had helped to create.

Often regarded as the complete midfielder, Peters was good in the air, able to cross with either foot and possessed great movement, being able to drift into goal-scoring positions unnoticed by his markers which would later see him nicknamed 'The Ghost'.

Ramsey once said of him: "Martin Peters is 10 years ahead of his time in the game."

The son of a lighterman on the River Thames, Peters was born on November 8, 1943, in Plaistow, east London, close enough to walk to the Boleyn Ground, before the family moved out to Dagenham in Essex.

A young Peters started out his football career in goal before being shifted around the side and flourishing in a midfield role.

Signing as an apprentice in 1959, Peters came through the fabled West Ham academy to make his senior debut against Cardiff on Good Friday 1962, initially as a wing-half – and, in only his third game, had to go in goal following injury to Brian Rhodes.

The season before England's World Cup triumph, Peters had been part of the West Ham side which won the 1965 European Cup Winners' Cup against 1860 Munich at Wembley.

Martin Peters, second left in back row, won the European Cup Winners' Cup with West Ham

An international debut, though, did not come until May of 1966, just two months before Peters would enshrine himself in English footballing folklore forever.

After 364 games and 100 goals for the Irons, in 1970 Peters left Upton Park for Tottenham, becoming Britain's first £200,000 footballer, in a deal which saw striker Jimmy Greaves head in the opposite direction.

While at White Hart Lane, Peters helped Bill Nicholson's team lift the League Cup at Wembley in 1971 and again, as captain, in 1973, a season after playing his part in Spurs' UEFA Cup victory over Wolves.

More success with England, though, would not follow.

He played at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, scoring the goal which put England 2-0 ahead in their quarter-final against West Germany. He was substituted after 81 minutes, with England still leading 2-1, and could only watch as West Germany went on to win 3-2 in extra-time.

Martin Peter's celebrates his goal in the 1966 World Cup final

By the time of the 1974 campaign, Peters had also been installed as England skipper, but was unable to drag Ramsey's team through qualification, with their hopes ended by a 1-1 draw against Poland.

A final England appearance came in May 1974, a 2-0 defeat against Scotland. Peters won a total of 67 caps and scored 20 goals.

At the age of 31, Norwich presented Peters with a chance to start afresh, the popular midfielder helping guide the Canaries to promotion from the old Second Division. He was named player of the season for 1975/76 and again in 1976/77.

After a spell at Third Division Sheffield United in 1980, where he would also have a brief stint as manager, Peters returned to Norfolk to play at non-league Gorleston.

Off the field, Peters was honoured with an MBE in 1978.

Sir Geoff Hurst (left) and Martin Peters played together for West Ham and England

While it seems improbable now in the world of multi-millionare footballers, the humble surroundings of a holiday park in Great Yarmouth was where Peters took up his first job out of the game, coaching children.

The Peters family, though, were soon back in Essex after close friend Hurst helped organise a job with a car warranty firm.

Peters, who sold his World Cup memorabilia to West Ham in 2001, was a regular figure at both White Hart Lane and Upton Park, where he carried out a role as match-day host, as well as being active on the after-dinner speaking circuit.

In 2016, it was revealed Peters had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, one of several of the 1966 World Cup team to be battling dementia.

He is survived by wife Kathleen, daughter Leeann and son Grant.

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