Francis Lee believes John Stones has everything to become as good as the legendary Bobby Moore. The former Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City and Derby County forward was marked by the West Ham United icon several times at club level, and they were England team-mates at the 1970 FIFA World Cup Mexico™.
“I don't care what anyone says, John Stones is going to become an outstanding player,” said Lee. “I played against Bobby Moore many times in club football and also played with him for the England team on around 20 occasions, and John has all the attributes to be in his class.
“John is quick, he's good on the ball, and he can defend. The area he needs to work on is his reading of the game, but people remember Bobby Moore from his peak between 24 and 32. John is only 22, so he's going to improve and he will disappoint a lot of pundits.
“Everyone remembers Bobby's embrace with Pele, a sign of total professional respect between them. John Stones has been written off in some quarters far too quickly, from what I've seen, he has the potential to be world-class as Bobby was.”
The embrace Lee was referring to provided one of the most iconic photos in sporting history. Brazil had just edged England 1-0 in the so-called ‘Final that never was’, but Moore had produced an immaculate display, decorated by one of the finest tackles ever seen in the competition on Jairzinho.
Stones began his career at Barnsley before joining Everton as an 18-year-old in 2013. His recent move to Manchester City made him the second-most expensive defender in history – David Luiz’s switch from Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain tops that list.
Stones played alongside Eric Dier, Ross Barkley and Harry Kane at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2013, and made his senior debut the following year.
Stones has helped England keep four clean sheets from as many Russia 2018 qualifiers. The Three Lions head Group F, two points above Slovenia and four clear of Slovakia.