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When We Were Kings!
England's 1966 World Cup Victory
England football

World Cup 1966

Jules Rimet Trophy Alf Ramsey had taken over the management of England following the resignation of Walter Winterbottom and immediately failed to qualify for the 1964 European Championships, prompting him to promise that England would win the next World Cup.

Bobby Moore The 1966 World Cup was to be hosted by England, therefore Ramsey's team qualified automatically for the finals.

England had undergone substantial changes under his leadership. Jack Charlton (Leeds United), Nobby Stiles (Manchester United) and George Cohen (Fulham) were brought in to strengthen the defence, joining team captain Bobby Moore (West Ham United) and Ray Wilson (Everton).

Gordon Banks (Stoke City) replaced Ron Springett in goal and Jimmy Greaves (Tottenham Hotspur) and Bobby Charlton (Manchester United) spearheaded the attack. Ramsey's main problem remained the wing positions which were unresolved despite trialling several players.
World Cup Willie    World Cup 1966 Winners Medal

The 1966 tournament had already been the subject of some bitter disagreement before a ball had even been kicked. Sixteen African countries had boycotted the competition in protest against a 1964 FIFA decision that the champions from the African zone would have to play-off against the winners of either the Oceania or Asian zone to qualify for the finals. The Africans legitimately felt that winning their zone should have been enough in order to take part. Despite this, there was still a record number of entries for the qualifiers with 70 nations competing. FIFA ruled that ten teams from Europe, four from South America, one from Asia and one from North and Central America would comprise the final sixteen.

England were drawn with Mexico, France and Uruguay in Group A and commenced their campaign with a 0-0 draw at Wembley against Uruguay. After this disappointing start they finally found some of their goal touch with Roger Hunt and Bobby Charlton hitting the net in a 2-0 win over Mexico.

In the third qualifying game against France, Hunt was again the hero for England, scoring in each half to qualify for the quarter final knock-out stages, but at a cost. Star striker Jimmy Greaves, who had so far failed to open his goal account, suffered a badly-gashed leg and was not able to play in the quarter final where England were to face Argentina. He was replaced for this game by 25-year-old Geoff Hurst of West Ham United as Ramsey changed tactics and opted for a new 4-3-3 formation, eschewing the use of recognised wing players.
Wembley Stadium 1966

The England teams:

  Versus Uruguay: G.Banks, G.Cohen, R.Wilson, N.Stiles, J.Charlton, R.Moore (Captain), A.Ball, J.Greaves, R.Charlton, R.Hunt, J.Connelly
Versus Mexico: G.Banks, G.Cohen, R.Wilson, N.Stiles, J.Charlton, R.Moore (Captain), T.Paine, J.Greaves, R.Charlton, R.Hunt, M.Peters
Versus France: G.Banks, G.Cohen, R.Wilson, N.Stiles, J.Charlton, R.Moore (Captain), I.Callaghan, J.Greaves, R.Charlton, R.Hunt, M.Peters
Versus Argentina: G.Banks, G.Cohen, R.Wilson, N.Stiles, J.Charlton, R.Moore (Captain), A.Ball, G.Hurst, R.Charlton, R.Hunt, M.Peters
Versus Portugal: G.Banks, G.Cohen, R.Wilson, N.Stiles, J.Charlton, R.Moore (Captain), A.Ball, G.Hurst, R.Charlton, R.Hunt, M.Peters
Versus West Germany: G.Banks, G.Cohen, R.Wilson, N.Stiles, J.Charlton, R.Moore (Captain), A.Ball, G.Hurst, R.Charlton, R.Hunt, M.Peters

Rattin dismissed History records that the confrontation with Argentina was a hard, rough, fiery affair that finally came to a head when the Argentine captain Antonio Rattin was sent off after a second bookable offence when he abused the referee while disputing the booking of another of his players. Although down to ten men, England continued to struggle to create scoring chances until the 79th minute, when new boy Hurst sent a glancing header past goalkeeper Antonio Roma to put the crowd into raptures and England into the semi-finals.
Despite the victory, Ramsey was incensed at the physical tactics of the Argentines, later likening them to 'animals', and went out onto the pitch to physically stop his players swapping shirts with the beaten opposition.This was the first time in the history of the competition that England had progressed beyond the quarter-finals and they now faced Eusebio and the 'Eagles' of Portugal who had already disposed of the tournament favourites, Brazil.

Unlike the previous game, the match turned out to be a classic. The host nation struck first after a challenge by Roger Hunt on Portuguese keeper Jose Pereira allowed the ball to fall to Bobby Charlton who side-footed it into the net. England, and Charlton, struck again to take a 2-0 lead when he drove home a cut-back ball from Geoff Hurst. The situation remained the same until the 82nd minute when Bobby's brother Jack was forced to save a certain goal by punching the ball from under the bar.

This resulted in a Portuguese penalty which the legendary DaSilva Ferreira Eusebio, who had, up until then, been dominated by the attentions of Nobby Stiles, blasted in to record the first goal that England had conceded in the tournament and, more importantly, to keep the game alive for Portugal. England endured a seemingly endless final 10 minutes of pressure to run out 2-1 winners. Unforgettably, despite being the tournament's top scorer with 9 goals, Eusebio left the field shedding emotional tears… but we were in the final, which was due to be played at 'the home of football', Wembley Stadium, and our not inconsequential opponents were to be the mighty West Germany who had disposed of Russia's 'red army' team by a similar score after crushing Uruguay 4-0 in the quarters.

England 1966
Gordon Banks
George Cohen
Ray Wilson
Nobby Stiles
Jack Charlton
Bobby Moore
Alan Ball
Geoff Hurst
Bobby Charlton
Roger Hunt
Martin Peters
Manager: Alf Ramsey
Gottfried Dienst

Tofik Bakhramov
Dr Karol Galba

West Germany
Hans Tilkowski
Horst Hottges
Karl-Heinz Schnellinger
Franz Beckenbauer
Willi Schulz
Wolfgand Weber
Helmuth Haller
Wolfgang Overath
Uwe Seeler
Sigi Held
Lothar Emmerich
Manager: Helmut Schoen
England 1966

German goal
On Saturday July 30th battle commenced in front of over 94,000 spectators but it started badly for a nervous England when, after only 13 minutes, the West Germans took the lead through Helmuth Haller. Ten minutes later England won a free-kick outside the German area. Bobby Moore curved the ball into the box for new-found hero and West Ham team-mate Geoff Hurst to head into the net, leaving the game finely balanced at 1-1 as the half time whistle was blown.
England goal

The second half was equally contested but, despite several chances, the two teams remained deadlocked until the 78th minute when a shot from Geoff Hurst was blocked only for another of his West Ham team-mates, Martin Peters, to slot the ball home to give England what now looked like a winning goal with only 12 minutes to play. However, fate (and football) can often be cruel and, with only seconds left until the final whistle, referee Gottfried Dienst awarded the West Germans a controversial free-kick after a challenge by Jack Charlton. The ball came in and, in a frantic goal-mouth bundle, West Germany's Wolfgang Weber managed to stick out a leg and force the ball over the line just before the full-time whistle blew, sending the game into extra-time.
Last minute equaliser

The German team collected on the pitch and sat down for a quick breather, but Ramsey was to deliver a well-considered psychological blow by keeping his players standing, famously exhorting his team to 'Look at them! They're finished!'. Both teams were showing signs of battle weariness as the game moved into extra-time and, in the 100th minute, one of the greatest controversies in football history occurred.

Controversy Alan Ball of Everton crossed to Geoff Hurst, who latched on to it and fired a shot at the German goal. With the goalkeeper beaten, it hammered against the underside the crossbar and bounced down, the spin on the ball bringing it back into the field of play. In that fraction of a second, Roger Hunt was convinced that it was a goal and wheeled away in celebration, ignoring the rebounding ball*. The referee was undecided as to whether it had crossed the line and, amid furious denials by the West germans, ran across to consult Azerbaijani linesman Tofik Bakhramov. After a brief discussion he made his decision - a goal was awarded and England had their noses back in front!
The referee gives it!

Hat trick for Hurst The German response was ferocious but, as hard as they tried, they were unable to make inroads into the stalwart England defence. The minutes ticked down and, as the game entered its final minute, crowds started to pour down from the stands, overflowing onto the edge of the pitch.
The unfolding scenario was watched by BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme, prompting him to start to make his now immortal observation 'Some people are on the pitch ..' English captain Bobby Moore fired a long ball up the pitch to an unmarked Geoff Hurst who collected the ball and headed towards the german goal… '… they think it's all over..' Hurst completely outpaced the final defender and rammed a swerving shot into the top corner of the German goal as the goalkeeper watched helplessly … ' is now!'

The final whistle sounded and England and Geoff Hurst, who had become the only, and remains the only, player to score a hat trick in a world cup final, took their place in the annals of football history amidst scenes of absolute euphoria. Final score, England 4,West Germany 2! Subsequently voted 'Player of the Tournament', proud captain Bobby Moore led his England team up the Wembley steps to collect the Jules Rimet trophy, carefully wiping his hands before accepting it from Queen Elizabeth II so as not to dirty her white gloves!
England manager Ramsey, so often at loggerheads with the FA for his tactics and team selections, was knighted in the New Year's honours list. Geoff Hurst left an indelible entry in the pages of football history and the man he replaced, Jimmy Greaves, probably one of the most skilled and prolific strikers the world of football has ever seen, had seen his last World Cup action.

* In an e-mail, Will Hartje recalls: "The 1966 World Cup was the first time I had seen squad numbers used on players' shirts. The custom was to use position numbers in the domestic game (1-11) and 12 for the sub. Players wore the number of the position they played on that particular day. Roger Hunt was universally lambasted for not poking the ball home after the fact though, of course, it didn’t really matter in the end. However, it earned him the nickname “Isaac” from all England fans (other than Liverpool’s!). On a personal note, I had been to the 3rd /4th place play-off between Portugal and Russia thinking that was as close to the final as I would get. It was about as good a game as you could expect for a 'loser’s final'. The stadium was only two thirds full and the atmosphere pretty sterile but I got to see two legends play, Eusebio and Lev Yashin - in fact Eusebio scored a penalty against Yashin in that game. I had resigned myself to watching the all-day football fest on TV for the final, but then I was fortunate enough to get a ticket for the final on the day of the game. My employer (I did a paper round) had a season ticket for all the Wembley games which, in those days, included the final. His wife had been taken seriously ill a couple of days before the final and he could not leave her and go to the match. He sold me the ticket at face value! – Ten shillings! (50p) I still have the stub. It was a magical day from start to finish, the unity in the country was palpable, the entire population was focused on the game. I remember the Daily Express that day had a HUGE headline in bright red letters (there was normally no colour used in papers in those days) that read “CHEER FOR ENGLAND ON THIS RED LETTER DAY” I can still remember the day vividly even after 42 years!"
Bobby Moore receives the World CupBobby and Alf with the cupCelebrationsWhen we were kings!

Click here for full 1966 World Cup tournament details, results and statistics at Wikipedia