Martin Peters

Martin Peters
Martin Peters
Personal information
Full name Martin Stanford Peters
Date of birth 8 November 1943 (1943-11-08) (age 68)
Place of birth Plaistow, London, England
Playing position Midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1959–1970 West Ham United 302 (81)
1970–1975 Tottenham Hotspur 189 (46)
1975–1980 Norwich City 206 (44)
1980–1981 Sheffield United 24 (3)
Total 721 (174)
National team
1966–1974 England 67 (20)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Martin Stanford Peters, MBE (born 8 November 1943 in Plaistow, London) is a former football player and member of the victorious England team which won the 1966 World Cup as well as playing in the 1970 FIFA World Cup.[1]

With his transfer from West Ham United to Tottenham Hotspur in 1970, he became Britain's first £200,000 footballer.

With pace, industry, creativity and exquisite timing on the run in addition to being a free kick specialist, Peters was described by England manager Sir Alf Ramsey as being "ten years ahead of his time". His versatility was such that while he was at West Ham he played in every position in the team, including goalkeeper.


From the West Ham academy

Peters came through the productive ranks at West Ham United after signing as an apprentice in 1959. He made his debut on Good Friday 1962 against Cardiff City.

Peters flitted in and out of a strong West Ham side over the next two years, and was consequently not selected for the FA Cup final of 1964 at Wembley, in which West Ham beat Preston North End 3–2. The following year, however, he established himself as a first team regular and was victorious at Wembley when West Ham won the European Cup Winners Cup with victory over 1860 Munich. He was usually partnered in midfield by Eddie Bovington and Ronnie Boyce.

Peters began to impose himself on West Ham's game, and another chance for silverware came in 1966 when West Ham reached the League Cup final. The occasion was still a two-legged affair with each of the finallists hosting a leg (though this changed to a one-off final at Wembley a year later), and Peters played in both matches. He scored in the second game but opponents West Bromwich Albion emerged as comfortable 5–3 winners on aggregate. There would be considerable consolation ahead for Peters at the World Cup – and League Cup success would also come his way later in his career.

England calls

Alf Ramsey had seen Peters' potential quickly, and in May 1966 he gave the young midfielder his debut for England against Yugoslavia at Wembley.[2] England won 2–0 and Peters was impressive with his industry and exuberance around the park. In the final preparation period for Ramsey prior to naming his squad for the World Cup, Peters played in two more of the scheduled warm-up games. Against Finland, he scored his first international goal in what was only his second appearance, and subsequently he made Ramsey's squad for the competition, as did his West Ham team-mates Bobby Moore (the England captain) and Geoff Hurst.

Though Peters did not play in the opening group game against Uruguay, the drab 0–0 draw prompted Ramsey into changes. The England coach had been toying with using a system which allowed narrow play through the centre, not operating with conventional wingers but instead with fitter, centralised players who could show willing in defence as well as spread the ball and their runs in attack. Peters therefore had become an ideal player for this 4–1-3-2 system, elegant in his distribution and strong in his forward running, yet showing the stamina, discipline and pace to get back and help the defence when required. This system was coined as "the wingless wonders".

Ramsey put Peters in the team for the second group game against Mexico, which England won 2–0. He kept his place as England got through their group, scraped past a violent Argentina side in the quarter finals (Peters' late cross set up Hurst's header for the only goal) and out-thought the enigmatic Portuguese in the last four. The Germans awaited in the final.

A world champion

A tense but open game at Wembley saw the score at 1–1 in the final quarter of an hour when England won a corner. Alan Ball delivered it to the edge of the area to Hurst, who tried a shot on the turn. The ball deflected high into the air and bounced down into the penalty area where Peters rifled home a half-volley. The Germans equalised in the final seconds, though glory would still come the team's way with the 4–2 win in extra time, and Hurst – like Peters, winning only his eighth cap – completing a historic hat-trick.

A record breaker

Peters was now one of the first names on Ramsey's England teamsheet, despite an indifferent spell for West Ham as a club and team. He was also a pleasingly frequent scorer from midfield.

In March 1970, West Ham received a record-breaking £200,000 (£146,000 cash) for Peters from Tottenham Hotspur and Peters duly went to White Hart Lane, with Spurs and England striker Jimmy Greaves (valued at £54,000) going the other way. Peters scored on his Spurs debut against Coventry City.

Mexican disappointment

That summer, Peters was a shoo-in for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, for which England had qualified automatically as holders of the competition. By now Peters was an established international with 38 caps.

Peters played in England's three group games from which they comfortably qualified again, and the Germans were once more waiting, this time in the last eight. Peters scored against the Germans again early in the second half – a superb and typical "ghosting" goal, to wit, a run and finish from behind a defender which no German player had spotted – to establish a commanding 2–0 lead, but later Ramsey committed the tactical faux-pas of substituting Peters and Bobby Charlton, and the Germans took heart by winning 3–2 in extra-time.

Domestic and European success

Still Peters remained an England regular while also picking up his first domestic winners' medal in 1971 when Spurs beat Aston Villa 2–0 in the League Cup final. Later the same year, Peters won his 50th England cap in a qualifier for the 1972 European Championships, beating Switzerland 3–2. England failed to progress thanks largely to another defeat against Germany, who went on to win the tournament. International disappointment for Peters was tempered mildly by more club success when Spurs beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3–2 on aggregate to win the 1972 UEFA Cup in what remained the only all-English European final until Manchester United beat Chelsea in the UEFA Champion's League Final, 2008.

In 1973, Peters won the League Cup again with Spurs and scored the only goal as England beat Scotland at Wembley. It was his 20th goal for his country and would prove to be his last. England had been stuttering in their qualifying campaign for the 1974 World Cup, dropping points in a drawn game against Wales and then succumbing horrifically to a 2–0 defeat against Poland in Chorzów.

Captain of his country

It meant that England needed to defeat Poland at Wembley to qualify for the finals in Germany and, with an out-of-form Moore dropped from the side (he'd only play once more subsequently for his country) Peters captained the side for the crucial game.

Against a dominant England, Polish goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski contrived to keep out every single shot and header. A defensive error allowed Poland to score and only the award of a penalty allowed England to level up quickly. (Peters in his autobiography admitted that he had dived to win the penalty.) Allan Clarke scored from it, but England could not get the crucial winning goal no matter how they tried. Poland went through after the match finished 1–1 (and proved it was no fluke by finishing third in Germany) but Peters had been robbed of the chance of a third successive World Cup competition.

Twilight years

At the age of 30, Peters' career at the highest level began to slip away. He played three more games for England, reaching a total of 67 caps, though his illustrious career with his country ended in ignominy as England crashed to a 2–0 defeat against Scotland at Hampden Park. Peters duly managed one more season with Spurs – losing the 1974 UEFA Cup final to Feyenoord on aggregate – before moving to Norwich City – managed by his former West Ham team-mate John Bond – in March 1975 for £50,000.

Peters helped newly-promoted Norwich establish themselves in the First Division, making more than 200 appearances, and earning a testimonial against an all-star team which included most of the 1966 World Cup winning England XI. He was voted Norwich City player of the year two years running, in 1976 and 1977, and in 2002 was made an inaugural member of the Norwich City F.C. Hall of Fame. Finally he joined Sheffield United on July 31, 1980 as player-coach with the intention to replace Harry Haslam as manager. His first appearance came in a 2–1 victory against Hull City on August 2, 1980 in the Anglo-Scottish Cup and his League debut came in the opening match of the season in a Division Three fixture against Carlisle United. He scored once in a 3–0 victory.

His wait to become manager was not long, his final game coming against Gillingham on January 17, 1981 which Haslam was too ill to attend. Peters retired to take up the manager's job the following day with United twelfth in the table with sixteen games to play. Winning just three of the remaining games, United were relegated to the Fourth Division and Peters resigned.

Insurance and retirement

On his retirement from professional football in January 1981, after a distinguished and remarkably injury-free career, he had racked up 882 appearances in total, scoring 220 goals. After Peters quit Sheffield United he spent the 1981–82 season playing in defence for Gorleston in the Eastern Counties League. In 1984 he moved into the insurance business where he stayed until he was made redundant in July 2001.[3]

In 1998 Peters joined the board of directors at Spurs, and, although he since stepped down, he remains one of the match-day welcomers in the hospitality suites at the club's White Hart Lane ground.

In 2006, Peters published his autobiography, The Ghost of 66, to critical acclaim.[citation needed]

Peters was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2006 in recognition for his achievements as a player.

Personal life

Peters is married to Kathleen, his wife since 1964. They met three years earlier at a Dagenham bowling alley. They have a daughter Lee-Ann (born 1965) and a son Grant (born 1970). They also have two grandchildren. They now live in Shenfield, Essex.[4]

Career statistics

Club performance League Cup Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
England League FA Cup Total
1961–62 West Ham United First Division 5 0
1962–63 36 8
1963–64 32 3
1964–65 35 5
1965–66 40 11
1966–67 41 14
1967–68 40 14
1968–69 42 19
1969–70 31 7
1969–70 Tottenham Hotspur First Division 7 2
1970–71 42 9
1971–72 35 10
1972–73 41 15
1973–74 35 6
1974–75 29 4
1974–75 Norwich City Second Division 10 2
1975–76 First Division 42 10
1976–77 42 7
1977–78 34 7
1978–79 39 10
1979–80 40 8
1980–81 Sheffield United Third Division 24 4
Total England 724 175
Career total 724 175


West Ham United

Tottenham Hotspur



  1. ^ Martin PetersFIFA competition record
  2. ^ Martin Peters Statistics The Football Association. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  3. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (2006-04-08). "The best of times". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  4. ^ [1]
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Colin Suggett
Norwich City Player of the Season
Succeeded by
John Ryan

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