It is the image every England football fan holds in their heart – Bobby Moore on the shoulders of his ecstatic teammates, holding the 1966 World Cup trophy.
The captain’s vivid red shirt could be the greatest souvenir in British sporting history – and yet its whereabouts is a mystery.
The iconic top is in the hands of an unknown person, and today the legendary footballer’s family issue a heartfelt plea for its return.
Tina Moore, the footballer’s wife of 24 years, told the Mail: ‘That red shirt was the defining symbol of his – and England’s – greatest footballing moment, and Bobby gave it to me. I don’t know who has got it now, but I am begging them to return it to his family. Please: let us have it back.’
Today the Daily Mail explores the riddle of the missing shirt.
Bobby Moore with his wife of 24 years Tina, who is wearing an England football shirt, circa 1972
Moore remains English football’s most successful ever captain, the only skipper who has won the World Cup. The famous photo of him smiling triumphantly, hoisted high on the shoulders of his England teammates, clutching that most precious of trophies, is seared into the national conscience.
But today that red shirt – which Tina Moore kept in her house – has turned up in the hands of a mystery private buyer who wishes to remain anonymous.
It is decades since the Moores last held the shirt. Unlike the celebrated captain’s medals and trophies, which were proudly displayed in cabinets in the dining room and bar of their Essex home, Moore’s football shirts – including the yellow top given to him by Brazil legend Pele at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico – were kept in the attic, neatly folded into a leather sports bag. In those days, framing a shirt to hang on a wall was not the done thing.
Yet somehow, that red shirt has gone from its leather bag to apparently being sold at a low-key auction to an ‘international collector’.
The family discovered the perplexing situation 18 months ago when, out of the blue, they received a phone call from the Football Association.
Three Lions… and three clues it WAS the original
No.6 Bobby Moore’s famous shirt number – and the colour red, rarely used by England
Width and shape of the white border around the blue shield exactly matches other shirts from the final – in an era when these factors varied widely
Distinctive Umbro ‘Aztec’ jersey was used by England six times from 1966 to 1970. But only in World Cup was the collar label stitched on all four sides, as it is here, rather than stitching being just at the top of label.
Bobby Moore’s daughter Roberta said that in October 2021, an FA executive told her: ‘Your father’s shirt has been found.’
The shirt, the FA man informed her, was going to feature in a new ‘coffee table book’ charting the history of England football shirts. The book had been commissioned by the FA and it was about to go to press, in time for the Christmas market.
Roberta remembers feeling stunned. None of it made sense. She told the FA executive: ‘Are you sure? Have you checked it’s genuine?’
Told the shirt had been authenticated by a Sotheby’s and Christie’s expert, she replied: ‘Well, my mother’s going to be pretty interested to hear this.’
Roberta said: ‘When my parents got divorced, my father left everything to my mother in the divorce settlement, including the memorabilia and the shirts. My mother has been looking for the shirts for years.’
What followed was a frantic few days as the Moores and the FA tried to unravel the mystery.
There is no suggestion that the Football Association or the anonymous private buyer were aware of any problem with the Moore shirt’s provenance. The FA contacted the family as a courtesy on the eve of the publication of its coffee table book about the discovery – which was an exciting development for fans of sporting memorabilia.
At the family’s behest, the FA made enquiries of the book’s publisher, Vision Sports Publishing, and the FA wrote to the Moores on October 21 that year, stating: ‘In researching the book, the publishers discovered the whereabouts of the shirt that your father wore in the 1966 World Cup final, in the hands of a private buyer. The buyer is known only to the publisher and they have asked to remain anonymous.’
Tina and Roberta were baffled. This was the shirt they had last seen in the attic. How could it now be ‘in the hands of a private buyer’?
The next day, Roberta spoke to another senior FA executive. According to Roberta, he told her: ‘Your father’s shirt has been found at a general auction of an unknown deceased person.’
He said an article about the discovery had been written which would feature in the coffee table book – which was going to be printed in four days’ time. Roberta said: ‘I told him my mother had been looking for this shirt for years. I said to him: ‘You really need to speak to my mother.’
The FA man offered to send her a copy of the article to check. He was as good as his word, sending it the same day.
And there it was – the famous red shirt, slightly scuffed but unmistakable. There were two photographs, apparently taken recently, one of which was a close-up of the stitched Three Lions motif.
Roberta said: ‘My mother had been searching for this shirt for years – decades – and here it was right in front of us’.
As a child, Roberta remembers ‘crystal clearly’ seeing the shirt in the attic of the family home in Chigwell, Essex. She said: ‘It was kept in a blue leather sports bag full of his England shirts and shirts he’d swapped with other players across his career. On occasion, we would go up to the attic for things like Christmas decorations or suitcases. There was a big box of wonderful old black and white photographs which we would often get distracted looking at for hours.
‘And then we would unzip the bag and take out the shirts to look at. I would ask what match this or that shirt was from. Sometimes I went up with Mum, sometimes with Dad. I knew what the red shirt was, the one with the No 6 on the back – his World Cup final shirt.
‘When Dad won the World Cup, I was only a baby, but I grew up very much understanding his achievement. How did the shirt go from being in my mother’s attic to turning up in this proposed book?’
It was clear that the shirt had been professionally photographed in a studio, believed to be in South London. The crisp nature of the images suggests they were taken recently. And someone – an expert – had apparently handled the shirt and examined it carefully to be able to verify its authenticity and confirm it was the same shirt Moore had worn in the World Cup final.
Roberta said: ‘The whole thing was surreal. Just looking at these photographs of the shirt brought back so many memories.
Sir Bobby Moore’s wife Tina Moore (left) and their daughter Roberta. The legendary footballer’s family have issued a heartfelt plea for his shirt’s return
‘I started reading the article alongside these photographs and the more I read, the more uncomfortable I became. At first, I was confused, then I became concerned. The article stated ‘the mystery is solved’, without actually revealing who had my mother’s property. And that’s when I got a bit cross. I thought, what do you mean the mystery is solved?
‘It said that my father was known for giving away his shirts, and therefore it ‘could be virtually anyone’ he gave this particular shirt to. That was such rubbish – my father would never have given it away. It was the one he was most proud of and cherished. And anyway, they were missing the point: the shirt belongs to my mother.’
In the article, which was never published, the authors had done some sterling detective work and ‘discovered the whereabouts of Moore’s shirt’, arranging for it to be photographed. They wrote it had been ‘discovered in the collection of an international football memorabilia collector’ who ‘wishes to remain anonymous’.
The collector, it was said, had ‘purchased the shirt some years ago as part of a collection of items that came up in a general auction related to the estate of a recently deceased person’.
Roberta and Tina both asked the FA to find out more details, and on October 24, the FA sent them an email. Copying in the book’s publisher, Vision Sports Publishing, an FA executive wrote: ‘I have now spoken with the publisher… and I raised your concerns and obvious questions over the shirt’s authenticity.’
The executive said that while the publisher ‘cannot tell us who the private owner is’, the shirt had been fully authenticated by the expert used by auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s.
The FA man said: ‘In terms of how it came to be in the current owner’s possession, I’ve been advised that it appears that it was acquired as part of an auction lot of a deceased man, and nobody – including the owner – knows the identity of the deceased man. Apparently this is quite common at auctions.’
The information was tantalising – but it begged more questions than answers. Who had the shirt now, who was the ‘deceased man’ they had bought it from, and how did he get it in the first place?
The shirt worn by England football captain Bobby Moore when when he lifted the World Cup trophy in 1966
The Moores have no idea how the shirt went missing from the attic. The last time the bag containing the shirts was seen was by Tina in the late 1980s or early 1990s.
The red shirt most likely went missing some time during the mid-1990s, because Tina actively looked for it in 1998 and was puzzled when she could not find it.
There is no suggestion that the current ‘owner’ of the shirt bought it in anything but good faith. The collector may have purchased it innocently at auction, not realising that years later the family would lay claim to it. And it is unknown how many times the shirt may have been sold since the last time the family had it. It may have changed hands several times.
As to who took the shirt from the attic, the family simply do not know. After Tina and Bobby separated in the 1980s, Tina lived between her cottage in Loughton, Essex, and Miami for many years. The Essex cottage was either empty for spells or was used by friends and relatives while she was away.
Moore playing in the 1966 World Cup Final at Wembley, with the final score England 4 v West Germany 2
Before moving to the US, Tina arranged for her valuables to be deposited with a bank, but years later she found out that the shirts bag was not among them. She said: ‘The divorce deeply affected me. It was a terrible time of my life, I was in turmoil. I put all my valuables into a bank vault and thought at the time that all the shirts were included, but I discovered much later that they weren’t. So we just don’t know what happened to them.’
But of one thing she is certain – the shirts belong to her. When she and Bobby divorced in 1986, he gave her all of his memorabilia including his shirts, medals, trophies and his OBE awarded in 1967 by the Queen.
When Moore was dying of cancer in 1992, Roberta and her brother Dean made sure he could see his cherished trophies, medals and caps one last time, and brought them to the home he shared with his second wife Stephanie, whom he married 14 months before his death. But the shirts, including the famous red one, were not among the possessions they took. And Stephanie later returned all the memorabilia to Tina.
Bobby Moore and Pele swapped jerseys after England’s World Cup match against Brazil in Mexico in 1970
The Football Association has long celebrated Moore’s legacy – erecting a bronze statue outside Wembley Stadium – and there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the FA or the book’s publisher.
Indeed, the FA said last night: ‘Bobby Moore is an England hero. It would be wonderful if there was a way of finding his historic World Cup-winning shirt and putting it on display for the nation.’
Nonetheless, the riddle has left the family frustrated. One day after the FA passed on the intriguing information about the shirt, there was another shock. They were informed the ‘owner’ of the shirt had become ‘spooked a little’ by the unfolding saga, and may have decided ‘they just don’t need the… attention’.
England captain Bobby Moore holds aloft the World Cup following England’s victory in 1966
The publisher told the FA that the Moore shirt – which it described as ‘the single most historic piece of British sporting memorabilia in existence’ – would sadly no longer feature in the coffee table book.
Roberta said: ‘The whole thing felt so strange. We would like to hear from the shirt’s holder and to find out how they came to buy it.’
After all the to-ing and fro-ing, Christmas 2021 came and went with no sign of the coffee table book. It finally hit the bookshops in autumn 2022.
A glossy and weighty hardback, Three Lions On A Shirt is a fascinating book, taking the reader through a mesmerising collection of the most famous shirts in English football history, beautifully pictured by photographer Paul Downes. But absent is the most legendary of them all, Moore’s World Cup-winning top.
Tina said: ‘When I look at this shirt, what I see is the wonderful man who actually wore it on that day when we won the World Cup. It means so much to our family and I would just love to have it back and to share it with my family and also I would like the nation – England – to be able to look at what a magnificent tribute it is to Bobby.’
But to the family’s frustration, the trail has gone decidedly cold.
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12000991/Whos-got-Bobby-Moores-shirt-Tina-puzzled-whereabouts-came-call-FA.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270