Born in Chesterfield of Scottish parents, Bob Wilson found success playing in goal at school and gained England schoolboy honours in 1957.
After qualifying as a physical education teacher at Loughborough College he signed for Arsenal in 1963. He was the last amateur to play in the First Division of the Football League. He turned professional in 1964 and made more than 300 first-team appearances, helping the Gunners win the European Fairs Cup in 1970 and one year later the coveted League Championship and FA Cup ‘double’. He also became the first English born player to be capped for Scotland.
In 1974 he embarked on a second career in sports journalism for BBC Television. He presented ‘Football Focus’ for 20 years and was also a regular presenter of, ‘Match of the Day’, ‘Grandstand’, ‘Sportsnight’ and ‘Breakfast Sport’. In August 1994 he was lured to the rival channel to be ITV’s main football presenter where he worked until 2002.
An FA Full Badge Coach since 1967, he specialised in the coaching of goalkeepers for 28 years and was the first professional goalkeeping coach in the Football League. During that time the goalkeepers at Arsenal, Queens Park Rangers, Southampton, Tottenham and Luton benefited from his training methods. He ran his own Goalkeeping School for youngsters from 1982 until 1995. He coached the keepers at Arsenal including John Lukic, Pat Jennings and David Seaman, from 1975-2003
He was Chairman of the London Football Coaches Association from 1988 to 2006. In 1989 he was awarded an honorary degree by Loughborough University for services to football. In 2000 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Derby and in 2004 he received the same award from Middlesex University. In 1997 he was appointed to the board of Governors of the University of Hertfordshire and served until 2006.
He has written many books on football, mainly involving goalkeeping. ‘You’ve Got To Be Crazy’, published by Arthur Barker is a history of goalkeeping and his book ‘Behind the Network’, published in 2003, is his autobiography. His books called ‘ Googlies Nutmegs and Bogies – The Origins of Peculiar Sporting Lingo’ (2006) and ‘Rucks Pucks and Sliders – The Origins of Peculiar Sporting Lingo’ (2007). are published by Icon Books. His book, ‘Life in the Beautiful Game’ was published in October 2009.
In August 1999 he and his wife Megs launched the Willow Foundation, a charity in memory of their daughter Anna who died in December 1998 of which he and Megs are Co-Founder Presidents. The foundation exists to provide special days for seriously ill young adults between the ages 16 to 40. Bob has worked tirelessly as a trustee and fundraiser for the charity and on 1st January 2008 Bob was awarded an OBE for charitable causes in the name of Willow Foundation.
Bob and Megs have two sons, John a radio journalist presenting ‘Front Row’ on Radio 4 and Robert, a highly successful commercial photographer.