A footballing legend on and off the pitch, Icons Legend of the Week #8 is Arsenal goalkeeping great Bob Wilson.
Between 1963 and 1974, Wilson amassed over 300 appearances between the sticks for Arsenal and won two caps for Scotland. Despite taking an early retirement at the age of 32, a long career in coaching, broadcasting and charity work has seen him become one of Britain's most popular and respected football personalities.
Born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire in 1941, Wilson was a late starter in professional football. Until Arsenal came knocking in 1963, he was in teacher training at Loughborough College while turning out as an amateur for Wolverhampton Wanderers Reserves. When he was signed by Billy Wright's Arsenal for £6,500, Wilson became the first amateur to move clubs for a transfer fee.
He arrived at Highbury as understudy to Jim Furnell, and despite making his debut in October 1963, he had to wait over four years to become the Gunners' first-choice. Manager Billy Wright was replaced by Bertie Mee, and Wilson duly won his first trophy with Arsenal during the 1969/70 campaign, when Arsenal overcame Belgians Anderlecht to claim the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. It was the Gunners' first piece of silverware since their 1952/53 Division One title.
Wilson was an unmovable figure in Arsenal's famous League and FA Cup double-winning 1970/71 season, during which he played every single first-team league and cup match and was named their player of the year.
1971 was also the year of Wilson's international call-up to the Scotland side. Eligibility rules had changed in 1970, allowing players to turn out for their parents' countries of origin. Wilson appeared for Scotland under Tommy Doherty against Portugal and Holland, but when Willie Ormerod took over as manager, he reverted to a Scottish-born number one, Bobby Clarke of Aberdeen, and Wilson was frozen out.
Wilson continued as Arsenal's number one until his retirement in May 1974. His involvement at the North London club was far from over, however, and after hanging up his boots he took on a coaching role. Wilson was the Gunners' goalkeeping coach for 28 years, working closely with fellow Arsenal greats Pat Jennings and David Seaman.
Wilson juggled coaching at Arsenal with a football broadcasting career, and after appearing as a pundit during the 1970 World Cup, he worked as a presenter with the BBC from 1974 to 1994 before moving to ITV. He has also devoted much of his time to charity work, and in 1999 he set up the Willow Foundation, to help people aged between 16 and 40 diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. In April 2011, Wilson, approaching 70-years-old, embarked on an incredible 500 mile 'Soccer Cycle' around every Premier League club in England. With the help of the likes of Lee Dixon, David Seaman and Les Ferdinand, the sponsored cycle raised more than £300,000 for the Willow Foundation.
A brave and supremely talented goalkeeper in his pomp, the Arsenal legend received an OBE in 2007, and remains a great authority and hugely respected commenter on the game today.
Likeable, passionate and devoted; modern football could use a few more characters like Bob Wilson.
Have a look at our Bob Wilson collection here.