Legend Peters’ sympathy for Green

CHRIS LAKEY World Cup legend Martin Peters has offered some words of sympathy for crocked Canaries keeper Robert Green.


World Cup legend Martin Peters has offered some words of sympathy for crocked Canaries keeper Robert Green.

Green's World Cup hopes were shattered when he ruptured his groin in last Thursday's England B game against Belarus, but the man who became an England legend 40 years ago before etching his name in Norwich City folklore, believes the keeper can overcome a potentially shattering blow to his career.

"He's had a down-turning - the expectations were that he might even leave if Norwich want to reap the benefits of what he has done," said Peters during a book signing session in Norwich at the weekend.

"But he has just got to get his head down. We all go through injuries and different things - I had a fractured leg and a bad Achilles when I was here, which kept me out for six weeks. You just have to look to the future and I am sure he will come back and be just as good as he was.

"I feel very sorry for the lad. He's obviously had a difficult season, I guess, with Norwich's expectations and those of the supporters hoping to go back into the Premiership. He had a bit of a dicky season and conceded a few goals away from home, not necessarily his fault, but the team's fault, and they just fell below the play-offs. I would think next year they will do a lot better."

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Peters knows just what it's like to go up with the Canaries - he did just weeks after moving to Carrow Road from Spurs for a bargain £50,000 in March, 1975.

It was to be his last major spell at a top club, following his time at West Ham and Tottenham - although he admits that it is the London clubs with which he is most often associated.

"People tend to ask me which is my favourite club, West Ham or Spurs, and I always say Norwich, which gets me off the hook really," he said.

"Norwich was a big part of my life. We lived here for eight and a half years and I played here for five and a half years and I was very, very happy here. I really enjoyed it and I have some good friends in and around the area.

"When I came from Spurs it took the pressure off me to a certain degree because Spurs are a team that expect to win things - not that Norwich don't. I came in with 10 games to go in the old Second Division. I didn't do a lot to help them at that time, but we got up and I scored a couple of goals. It was great and from then on John Bond was just keen to keep us in the old First Division.

"And that's what I managed to do during my time here. We had some really good players - Duncan Forbes, Dave Stringer, Kevin Keelan are all icons of Norwich City, they were great players. Ted MacDougal and Phil Boyer were here then and we were a really good side."

Peters played 232 times for Norwich and scored 50 goals, but, as highly revered as he is among City fans, there's no disputing that he will be primarily associated with the events of July 30, 1966. Forty years on and Peters, who scored the second goal in the Wembley final, doesn't tire of the inevitable stream of questions - hence his autobiography Ghosts of 66 which he was publicising at Ottakar's bookshop in the city.

"It's hard not to talk about winning the World Cup final, isn't it?" he said. "It's one of the greatest thing that's happened to me in football and 40 years on we are still talking about, based on the fact we haven't won it since.

"Yes, I enjoy it - it's been really crazy for the 66 boys this spring and coming into the summertime. We are just everywhere - I was at Stoke last night and got in at three this morning. I got a little shut-eye and here we are, but most of the lads are like that; we're just realty really busy but it's good for us. Forty years is a long time, let's hope they can win this summer."

One of the keys to success in Germany this summer will be Wayne Rooney, but Peters is clearly not entirely convinced of the benefits of including the Manchester United youngster in the squad.

"Is he is going to be fit, fit, fit? You have to be really match fit as well - there is a difference between fit and match fit," he said.

"When you train pre-season and play a couple of games you feel just as bad then you play two or three more and you feel a lot better so he has to be match fit before he plays and we just don't know what is going to happen.

"They are talking a good story - but if England get to the final and suddenly Rooney is fit are they going to drop someone who has got them to the World Cup final? I don't think so."

Ghosts of 66 is published by Orion Books priced £18.99