Matt Murray today revealed how a cup of tea and putting the world to rights with Bert Williams helped him through the good and bad times of his Wolves career.
Bert, who passed away yesterday at the age of 93, always took a keen interest in those goalkeepers who followed him in the Wolves nets, and perhaps none more so than Murray.
The two forged a close friendship, with Murray donating part of the proceeds from his testimonial year to Bert’s fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Society, the least he could do after all the support received during his own playing career.
“The word ‘legend’ gets bandied about too easily these days but in Bert’s case he was the ultimate legend,” says Murray.
“He was, without question, Wolves’ greatest goalkeeper and a top, top man.
“I remember meeting him properly for the first time when I’d got in the team as a 21-year-old which was a big honour.
“Ever since then he has always been a source of great support for me when I was playing and when I was injured.
“When I had a bad injury one of the first calls I’d get would be from Bert, telling me to keep my chin up and asking me if I wanted to pop around for a cup of tea!
“I would regularly go and see him and have that cup of tea and look through all his memorabilia.
“At the same time he would also call me if I was doing well to pass on his congratulations, or tell me to keep going if I’d had a bad game.
“To me it was a massive inspiration to be getting that advice and feedback from someone who was such a top player.
“He was also such a humble man as well.
“He always talked to me about how privileged he’d felt to have played football and how blessed he was to have had such a good family and a good career.
“Bert loved his time as a player – and would never have changed it.”
Bert’s impact extended beyond his legendary status at Molineux where his 420 appearances included the 1949 FA Cup Final triumph and the 1953/54 season when Wolves claimed their first title.
He remained, prior to his death, the oldest surviving England international and was invited to mark the FA’s 150-year anniversary last year but was unfortunately too ill to attend.
“His role playing for Wolves when they were one of the best teams in the world with all the floodlit friendlies mean he will quite rightly go into club folklore,” adds Murray.
“It is so long since he played but still everyone talks about Bert Williams and Wolves and I think that is how it will always be and rightly so.
“My grandad was a Derbyshire man, not a Wolverhampton man, but one day I took him a book round and said: “Hey grandad, I’ve got a signed book for you – I know Bert Williams.”
“And he said: “What??! You know ‘The Cat?!’ I don’t think there was anything I could have impressed him with more than that.
“That’s how big Bert was. He wasn’t just a star man at Wolves but across the country and overseas as well. He was massive.”
What was also massive was the amount of money raised by Bert - £150,000 – for the Alzheimer’s Society, in memory of his wife Evelyn, who had passed away in 2002.
“You could always see as well that he got a buzz about giving something back after he had finished playing,” Matt explains.
“After his wife Evelyn passed away, he set about raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society – he wanted to make a difference and to see him get out there at his age and raise so much is just a testament to the man that he was.
“I was delighted to be able to add a donation as part of my testimonial year to his fund.
“While Bert may have gone, his legacy will never be forgotten and his memory will always live on.
“He was an incredible man and an incredible goalkeeper.
“We are all very proud of him I think because he was so special.”