Remembering the proudest moment in England’s rich footballing history
54 years ago, today, Sir Alf Ramsey did what no England manager has ever been able to do, and that was win a World Cup. What made the win all extra sweet was that the three lions managed to do it on home soil.
The 1966 World Cup was the first time England hosted a major international tournament.
With the likes of Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst within the ranks, the England faithful believed, which is a rarity these days.
The Group Stage
Placed in Group 1 with Uruguay, Mexico and France, Ramsey’s side breezed through the group stage.
After a 0:0 draw on the opening night with Uruguay, England stepped up for the games with Mexico and France. With England winning 2:0 against Mexico and France, the three lions topped the group.
Former Manchester United great, Bobby Charlton and Roger Hunt were the catalysts going forward for England early on.
The Quarter-Final clash with Argentina
Ramsey’s men would face Argentina in the Quarter-Final, who finished in second place in Group 2.
One change was made for the clash with the Argentinians. Alan Ball replaced Ian Callaghan.
Going into the game, England were yet to concede in the tournament, but it was always going to be tough keeping a clean sheet against Argentina.
With both sides starting brightly, nine minutes before half-time, England was handed a golden opportunity. That was because the captain Antonio Rattín was sent off for Argentina.
It took until the 78th minute when the deadlock was finally broken. Geoff Hurst netted in the winner to secure a 1:0 win for England and set up a mouthwatering Semi-Final with Portugal.
A place in the World Cup Final
Portugal was the top goalscoring side going into the Semi-Final, with 14 goals. Eusébio, who won the golden boot that year with 9 goals, scored seven times before the clash with the three lions.
Perhaps England bit off more than they could chew. Eusébio was one of the best in the world at that time maybe he was the one to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
Thankfully, England’s togetherness and determination shone through. Bobby Charlton scored twice to send England to the World Cup final for the first time.
A 2:1 victory over the Portuguese meant that the three lions would face rivals West Germany in the final.
The West Germans progressed through to the final after beating the Soviet Union, 2:1, in the semis.
Over 96,000, packed inside the famous Old Wembley. With Queen Elizabeth watching on, this was it. It was all or nothing for England.
If they won on home soil, the side would go down as one of the greats.
Before kick-off, the traditional coin toss to determine who would start the game. Moore won the toss for the three lions and elected to kick off first.
Twelve minutes into the game, the West Germans took the lead. Sigfried Held found Helmut Haller, who capitalised on a mistake by Ray Wilson to give West Germany the lead.
Six minutes later, England equalised. Wolfgang Overath conceded a free-kick, which Moore took immediately. Moore’s cross found the head of Hurst, who scored for Ramsey’s men.
Fans had to wait until the 78th minute for another goal. Ball’s cross found the feet of Hurst whose deflected shot from the edge of the box found Martin Peters. Peters’ shot beat the West German keeper to give England a 2:1 lead going into the final proceedings of the game.
Unfortunately, West Germany equalised with just minutes to play. After a scramble inside England’s penalty area, the ball found its way to Wolfgang Weber who’s goal mean that an extra 30 minutes would be played to determine the winner.
Before sending his men out for extra time, Ramsey said:
“You’ve beaten them once. Now go out and bloody beat them again.”
Those words seemed to spur England on as they were on the front foot at the start of extra time. Their efforts were rewarded on the 101st minute.
Hurst shot from close range hit the underside of the crossbar, bounced down and was cleared by the West Germans. With over 90,000 claiming that the ball went in, the referee consulted with the linesman.
Here’s what was weird, the referee, Gottfried Dienst, was from Switzerland and his linesman was from Azerbaijan. They couldn’t understand each other, but they gave the goal anyway.
With West Germany pushing for an equaliser, England scored again. On the 120th minute, Moore managed to pick out Hurst.
Hurst carried the ball to the penalty box, and his rifled shot secured a 4:2 win over the West Germans, which sent millions into ecstasy.
The goal sparked the iconic piece of punditry from Kenneth Wolstenholme:
“And here comes Hurst. He’s got… some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over. It is now! It’s four!”
Even though the majority of us weren’t born in ’66, we all remember that listening to that piece of commentary with sheer goosebumps.
To this day, the win in ’66 remains England’s only ever success at the World Cup.
So remember the date, July 30th, 1966. The day England became world champions.
We hope you enjoyed the article ‘On This Day, England became World Cup winners.’ Do you think we will we See England win another World Cup in our lifetime? Let us know!
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