Tina Moore: my golden years with Bobby – and the betrayals that scarred his retirement

The woman played by Michelle Keegan recalls the man she knew best ahead of ITV's new drama based on football's famous couple

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There’s nothing like actually meeting a famous person for dismantling a set of misplaced assumptions.

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Tina Moore was married to the only British footballer ever to have captained a World Cup-winning side. Bobby Moore met Tina Dean in 1958 when he was 17 and she 15, and by the time Moore famously wiped his hands clean of sweat and Wembley Stadium’s mud before receiving the Jules Rimet trophy from the Queen in July 1966, the couple had been married four years.

Now Bobby and Tina’s “epic love story” has been dramatised, based on Tina’s 2006 memoir republished last year – which brings us to my own misplaced assumptions.

Her book is called Bobby Moore by the Person Who Knew Him Best, a distinctly proprietorial title, not least as it describes a relationship that has been over for considerably longer than it endured.

Meanwhile, Tina has been with Irish bar owner Steve Duggan for the past decade, for whom her repeated public discussion of her ex-husband must be a testing experience.

Yet as soon as the interview with Tina begins, she delivers her memories of Bobby with mellow fondness rather than jealous ownership of her ex-husband’s story; and I realise somewhat shamefacedly that I like her.

“I do think I was the person who knew him best, but I didn’t want that as my book title,” she explains, as we talk in a London hotel close to her Chelsea home. “I wanted Moore on Moore, but I had no say whatsoever.”

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Lorne MacFadyen and Michelle Keegan in ITV’s Tina and Bobby

On the day we meet she has yet to see the drama, and is about to view the first episode, detailing Moore’s diagnosis of testicular cancer in 1964, when he was 23 and had a testicle surgically removed. At the time it was normal for the next of kin to decide whether the patient was informed of the diagnosis, and Tina knew that her husband must not be told.

“Back then, it was a death sentence,” she says. “The very thought of cancer could affect the healing process. That word was never, ever mentioned between us in all the years we were together.”

Less than two years after his surgery, he lifted the World Cup. Tina says he was still the same man as the 17-year-old she first met at the Ilford Palais.

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The real Bobby Moore lifting the World Cup in 1966

“I wasn’t overly impressed at first,” she smiles. “He wasn’t quite handsome, but he was good-looking, and charm personified. He would leave me love notes under my pillow. He had a dry, deadpan wit. He never changed – always protective of myself and the children [Roberta, born in 1965, and Dean, 1968].

“Of course he was a young man, and when he went out for a drink with his friends he would drive me mad when he didn’t come home on time. But if we were out and he felt I was being pushed aside, he would draw me into the company. He was very compassionate like that, empathetic, brought up to respect others.

“He once said he had only one true friend, and that was me. He was very caring, until the very end when it all changed. But he first changed when the football finished, and he couldn’t get a job.”

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It’s difficult now to imagine which is more inconceivable – England winning the World Cup, or the captain of that team not being fêted to the stars.

But while Moore was eventually revered, when his playing days ended in 1978 the Football Association offered him no ambassadorial role, and even media punditry largely evaded him. A string of business ventures also ended poorly.

“He was deeply depressed,” says Tina. “He was very proud, and felt rejected, bewildered. It was outrageous how the FA treated him, a scandal. It’s all very well that there are statues to him now, but that should have happened during his lifetime. Back then, he started to withdraw into himself.

“He always hated confrontation and would internalise a lot of things. I found to my cost that he would cut off. He could put up a wall and freeze people out. It all contributed to our break-up.”

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She discovered her husband’s affair when he was visiting Australia. She rang his hotel room, and a woman answered the phone. The Moores separated soon after and divorced in 1986.

“I was flabbergasted. The separation was horrendous. I moved into a cottage, but was known as the ex-Mrs Moore. I was so unhappy. So once my children were grown, I moved to Miami. But it was ten years before I stopped being in love with him.”

She last met Bobby by pure chance on the London Underground around 1989, during a winter visit back to London after she had established her new life in Florida. She didn’t notice him until he tapped the seat next to her three times, and then they talked as old friends.

“He’d lost his golden glow,” she says. “He looked haunted and haggard, not well. Obviously he was happy within his personal life, and I’m sure his wife looked after him beautifully, but he wasn’t getting any work. Still, it was lovely to see him.

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Tina and Bobby Moore after the world cup win, 31st July 1966

“When he died [from bowel cancer], I was devastated. I knew he was very ill, and sent him a card to say that whatever had happened between us didn’t matter. Our daughter Roberta told me he liked it. “I’m not in love with Bobby now – it’s all such a long while ago. But I never stopped caring for him. I was super-selective about men after him, and now I’ve been with Steve for ten years. He’s a lovable character. He understands me, and why I talk publicly of Bobby with great love.”

She and [Bobby’s second wife] Stephanie have met in passing. Tina won’t give details of that, but credits her as “a good stepmother”.

Tina’s own family is expanding – Roberta has two children who are now young adults, and Dean’s daughter Poppy has given Tina a greatgrandson, with twins on the way.

Dean himself died in July 2011, as a result of complications from diabetes, aged 43. He was living alone, having previously struggled with alcohol problems.

Tina’s composure crumbles instantly at the mention of her only son’s death, and it’s clearly right to switch off the tape recorder. So the words she said, with tears on her cheeks, are reproduced from memory: “I last saw him on a Monday. He’d been dry for ten months and was doing great. Steve and I flew to Miami, and on the Friday I had the most vivid dream. I was with Bobby, and he was so loving. When I woke up I said his name.

“I rang Dean but I couldn’t get hold of him, and that’s why he was found. And then I thought of the dream. I truly believe Bobby came to me, and that the two of them are together. I take great comfort from that.”

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Tina and Tina and Bobby is on Friday 9.00pm, ITV