Bob Wilson (footballer)

Bob Wilson (footballer)

Infobox Football biography
playername = Bob Wilson

fullname = Robert Primrose Wilson
dateofbirth = birth date and age|1941|10|30|df=y
cityofbirth = Chesterfield
countryofbirth = England
dateofdeath =
cityofdeath =
countryofdeath =
height = height|ft=6
position = Goalkeeper
youthyears =
youthclubs =
years = 1962-1963 1963-1974
clubs = Wolverhampton Wanderers Arsenal
caps(goals) = 000 (0) 234 (0)
nationalyears = 1971
nationalteam = Scotland
nationalcaps(goals) = 002 (0)

Robert "Bob" Primrose Wilson OBE (born October 30, 1941 in Chesterfield, England) is a football former goalkeeper and later broadcaster.

As a player, Wilson is most noted for his career at Arsenal between 1963 and 1974. He made over 300 appearances for Arsenal and two appearances for Scotland, the first Englishman since 1873 to do so, having previously played for the England schoolboys under 15 team. After retiring as a player, he turned to coaching and broadcasting, presenting football programmes on television for 28 years, until 2002, and his opinion is still sought by radio and television to this day.

His unusual middle name has often been a source of amusement; it stems from a Scottish tradition of giving children their mother's maiden name as a middle name.

Playing career

Wilson started late as a professional player, as his father would not let him sign papers with Manchester United as he thought it wasn't a reasonable job whilst he was a youth. Wilson then went on to Loughborough College for training as a teacher before signing for Arsenal in 1963. He had been playing reserve games for Wolves as an amateur and made his debut for Arsenal as an amateur, making him the last non-professional to play in the top division, and the first amateur to have a transfer fee paid (around £6,500).

Wilson made his debut against Nottingham Forest on October 26 1963, in a 4-2 win. However, being forced to play understudy to Jim Furnell, it was to be over four years until Wilson became first-choice keeper in 1968, after Furnell made a mistake in an FA Cup tie against Birmingham City in March 1968. Wilson took over and remained in goal for Arsenal for the remainder of the 1967-68 season.

Now firmly ensconced in the Arsenal side, Wilson was an ever-present in the 1968-69 season, which included Arsenal's loss to Swindon Town in the 1969 League Cup Final. Despite sustaining a broken arm the following season, 1969-70, Wilson recovered and won his first trophy with Arsenal, the 1969-70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. In 1971, he was Arsenal's player of the year in their famous Double-winning season, in which he played every single first-team match in League and Cup, culminating in the 1971 FA Cup Final win over Liverpool.

He became eligible to play for Scotland when the rules were changed in 1970 to allow players to play for their parent's country of origin, if they had not already played for their own country. Wilson was selected by Tommy Docherty for his two games in charge, making his debut against Portugal on October 13 1971. After Wilson's second game, against the Netherlands on December 1 1971, Docherty left the position and his successor Willie Ormond reverted to a Scottish-born number one, in Bobby Clark of Aberdeen.

Wilson continued to play as Arsenal's keeper through the early 1970s, although an injury late on in the 1972 FA Cup semi-final against Stoke City meant he missed Arsenal's 1972 FA Cup Final loss to Leeds United and much of the 1972-73 season. Understudy Geoff Barnett took his place, but Wilson regained the number one shirt once fully recovered, and was Arsenal's first-choice goalkeeper up until his surprisingly early retirement from playing in May 1974, at the age of 32.

As a student and teacher of goalkeeping, Wilson has identified his own signature technique as diving at his opponents' feet to save goals. This has caused him a number of injuries throughout his career. Wilson also played goal without the use of goalkeeping gloves, something very rare at the time and completely unknown today.

Honours as a player

*Inter-Cities Fairs Cup winner, 1970
*First Division Championship, 1970-71
*FA Cup winner, 1971

Coaching career

After retiring, Wilson was goalkeeping coach for Arsenal for 28 years during the period Pat Jennings, John Lukic, and David Seaman were goalkeepers. He retired at the end of the 2002-03 season, having helped Arsenal win two more doubles in 1997-98 and 2001-02 — the only person to be involved with all three along with Pat Rice.

Broadcasting career

Wilson had already appeared as pundit for the BBC during the 1970 World Cup. After his football career, he became a football television presenter working firstly for the BBC from 1974 to 1994 as host of "Football Focus". He then presented for ITV until his retirement in 2002, fronting ITV's UEFA Champions League coverage until the arrival of Des Lynam in 1999. He also fronted ITV's coverage of Euro 96 and the 1998 World Cups. He still makes occasional appearances on television, on the BBC's "Football Focus" and "Match of the Day 2".

In the mid-1980s he was also immortalised in comic strip form when he spent a season playing for the fictional Melchester Rovers team in the "Roy of the Rovers" strip, in a side containing fellow veteran Emlyn Hughes and Spandau Ballet members Martin Kemp and Steve Norman. The quartet would help lead Rovers to Milk Cup glory and a record-breaking successive number of clean sheets - a somewhat unrealistic achievement considering Wilson's age and the fact he hadn't played for more than 10 years.

Personal life and charity work

He was born on "Ashgate Road" in Chesterfield. His father was a Borough engineer and his mother was a Magistrate. Being the youngest child of six, he had much older brothers - two of them were killed in the Second World War: a Spitfire pilot and another was a rear-gunner in a Lancaster, one was killed in February 1942 and the other December 1943.

He attended the Old Hall Primary School (now [ Old Hall Junior School] ) on "Old Road", then [ Tapton House Grammar School] , where he first met his future wife, Margaret Miles. He transferred to Chesterfield Grammar School at the age of 13, where his four elder brothers went. He also had a elder sister. He captained the Derbyshire Juniors Cricket Team. He went to Loughborough College of Education wher he studied History and Physical Education on a teacher training course.

Wilson is married to his wife Megs, they married on July 25, 1964 at [ Holy Trinity] church), and they had three children: John (born 1965), Anna (born 1966) and Robert (born 1968). His son John Wilson is a presenter on "Front Row", the BBC Radio 4 arts programme and Robert a commercial photographer.

In February 1994, Anna was diagnosed with malignant schwannoma, a cancer of the nerve sheath. After a long fight, she died on 1 December, 1998, six days before her 32nd birthday. [cite web | url= | title=Sports presenter's daughter dies | work=BBC News] The "Willow Foundation" was set up in her memory in 1999 and operated locally, mainly in Hertfordshire. Wilson relaunched the charity on 4 October, 2005 with a national remit. The organisation was established in Anna's memory and now helps some of the estimated 12,500 people in the UK, aged 16-40, who are diagnosed every year with a life-threatening illness. [cite web | url= | title=Popular Broadcaster Bob Wilson Launches National Charity In Memory Of His Daughter | work=Willow Foundation] In 2007, Wilson was awarded membership into the Order of the British Empire (OBE) as a result of his charity work. [cite web | url= | title=New Year Honours for sports stars | work=BBC News]



*cite book
author=Harris, Jeff & Hogg, Tony (ed.)
title=Arsenal Who's Who
publisher=Independent UK Sports
id=ISBN 1-899429-03-4

External links

* [ The Willow foundation]

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