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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 9, 2006

Former England boss Greenwood dies, aged 84

Ron Greenwood, England manager from 1977 to 1982 and hailed as one of the fathers of modern football, has died aged 84.

Greenwood managed the national side at two major tournaments but also influenced England's World Cup-winning side of 1966.

As West Ham's successful manager in the early 1960s, he transformed Geoff Hurst from a winger to a centre-forward, and also had England captain Bobby Moore and midfielder Martin Peters in his club side, who were renowned for their continental passing style.

Sir Trevor Brooking, the Football Association's director of football development, had an association with Greenwood at club and country level from the 1960s through to 1982 and believes he was one of English football's most influential figures.

Brooking said: 'Ron was one of the best coaches this country ever produced. At West Ham he introduced a continental style of play based around possession and keeping the ball and he also played a huge role in helping to shape certain individuals' careers.

'Transforming Geoff Hurst from a winger into a centre forward is of course something that gave the whole country benefit when he went on to score that hat-trick [against West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final].

'In his England coaching career, Ron was incredibly forward-thinking and, in involving Bobby Robson as part of his coaching set-up, he paved the way for his own successor.

'If you ask any of the players that played under Ron for England, from Kevin Keegan through to all the Liverpool boys that had come through the `Boot Room', they all remember how enjoyable he made training and the whole experience of playing football for your country.'

Greenwood was only 60 when he made way for Robson, and Brooking believes the FA missed a trick by not utilising his knowledge afterwards.

He told the FA's website: 'In some ways it's a great shame that football didn't tap into Ron's experience and abilities after '82 but I will never forget what he taught me about the game and it's certainly influencing the things I am doing and what I am trying to put in place at the FA today.'

Greenwood won the FA Cup with West Ham in 1964 and the club claimed European Cup Winners Cup glory the following year.

Born on November 11, 1921 in Burnley, Greenwood became a professional after World War II, signing for Bradford Park Avenue as a centre-half.

Four years later he moved to London, remaining in the capital for the rest of his career. Playing spells at Brentford, Chelsea and Fulham were followed by him becoming assistant manager at Arsenal and then taking over at West Ham in 1961.

He remained as manager for 13 years before becoming general manager, and then took over England following Don Revie's sudden departure after the FA baulked at appointing Brian Clough.

Greenwood's first major tournament was disappointing, as England went out in the first round of the European Championships staged in Italy.

His second was altogether better: England were unbeaten in the 1982 World Cup in Spain but due to the unusual structure of the competition failed to progress from the second group phase.

England had done well without key players Brooking and Keegan, who were both injured for all but an infamous final 30 minutes of the last match when they were brought on to try to secure the breakthrough against hosts Spain, but it proved elusive.

Greenwood then handed over the reins to Robson and retired from the game, having overseen England in 55 games, winning 33, drawing 12 and losing 10. His record in competitive games was even better, losing only four out of 26.

Brooking added: 'One of the things that will always stand out for me was the way he interacted with his players.

'He used to ask us questions and make us part of the decision-making process, just as we would need to be when we went onto the field.

'He put the players at the centre of his coaching and made sure that we went on the pitch to express and enjoy ourselves.'

Hurst himself calls Greenwood 'the single most influential figure in my career who opened the door to the world of modern football'.

Greenwood, who was awarded the CBE and in 1983 given the Football Writers' Association tribute for outstanding contribution to the national game, died peacefully at his Suffolk home last night after a long illness.

He is survived by his wife Lucy, two children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Sports minister Richard Caborn said: 'I was saddened to hear of Ron's death. He was a man who brought integrity to football at a difficult time for the sport. He had the respect of all who were fortunate enough to know him and his love of the national game will not be forgotten.'