1966 and all that

May 3, 2006
By Dominic Raynor
(Archive)

Following the resignation of Walter Winterbottom new England boss Alf Ramsey heralded a changing of the guard and demanded that the reluctant FA allow him complete power over team selection.

Allsport>Newly installed England manager Alf Ramsey (right) takes a training session.

The former England international, who won 32 caps, had a proven track record at club level - he had guided Division Two Ipswich Town to promotion in 1962 and won the Division One title the following year - but his international career endured an inauspicious start.

In his first game in charge, France beat England 5-2 in Paris. Ramsey's team then failed to qualify for the 1964 European Championships - but the growing doubts over his tenure just prompted the outspoken manager to promise England would win the next World Cup.

Luckily, the 1966 World Cup was hosted by England - and so Ramsey's men qualified automatically.

England had changed under their new manager. The defence had been strengthened by the introduction of Leeds United's Jack Charlton, Manchester United's Nobby Stiles and Fulham's George Cohen to complement captain Bobby Moore and Everton's Ray Wilson.

Gordon Banks had replaced Ron Springet between the posts, and Bobby Charlton and Jimmy Greaves led the attack. Ramsey's only problem was with the flanks, where a number of players had performed unsatisfactorily - but he had a solution.

England were drawn in Group A with France, Mexico and Uruguay, starting their World Cup campaign with a goalless stalemate against the latter at Wembley.

It wasn't the start of potential world champions, but England did find the back of the net against their next opponents Mexico, winning 2-0 thanks to Liverpool's Roger Hunt and Charlton.

England's next opponents at Wembley were France and events in this final group game had a dramatic effect on the nation's World Cup aspirations.

Hunt scored two goals, one in each half, as England beat the French 2-0 and qualified for the next phase. However, star striker Greaves, who uncharacteristically had been unable to score, suffered a gashed leg and was unable to play in the subsequent quarter-final against Argentina.

West Ham's 25-year-old striker Geoff Hurst replaced the injured Greaves, slotting into a new formation as Ramsey decided against having any wingers at all and went for a 4-3-3 formation.

The match proved explosive, and the turning point came when Argentina captain Antonio Ubaldo Rattin was sent off for a second bookable offence. Rattin became abusive to the ref as he disputed the latest booking of one of his colleagues and was shown the red card.

England still struggled to score against ten men until, in the 79th minute, when Hurst sent a glancing header past goalkeeper Antonio Roma to put the host nation into the semi-finals.

EmpicsArgentina captain Antonio Rattin is sent-off against England at Wembley.

Nevertheless, at the final whistle an angry Ramsey prevented his players from swapping shirts with the attritional Argentinians and likened them to 'animals'.

England had progressed past the quarter-finals for the first time in their history, and their reward was a semi-final against Portugal - who had already eliminated favourites Brazil.

The match was a classic, and the first goal went England's way when Hunt challenged Portuguese keeper Jose Pereira and Charlton pounced on the ricochet to sidefoot home.

Hurst then set up Charlton's second goal with a cutback for the forward to hammer home. Brother Jack then punched the ball from under the bar to give Portugal a penalty in the 82nd minute. Da Silva Ferreira Eusebio, who had been kept quiet by Styles for much of the game, scored from the spot to make it 2-1, but England held on for victory.

Eusebio's penalty was the only goal England had conceded in the tournament, they now had to prepare for the small matter of playing the World Cup final on home soil, at Wembley Stadium, against West Germany.

The final started badly for a nervous England in front of over 94,000 when, after only 13 minutes, Helmuth Haller scored for West Germany.

But the home nation fought back and won a free-kick outside the area. Moore lofted the ball into the box for Hurst to head home only ten minutes after the German strike, leaving the final balanced at 1-1 at the break.

The two teams remained deadlocked until 12 minutes from time, when Hurst's shot was charged down only for his West Ham team-mate Martin Peters to slam the ball home and give England what looked like victory.

But with time ticking away, referee Gottfried Dienst gave away a controversial free-kick against Jack Charlton. The ball in found its way to Germany's Wolfgang Webber, who netted from close range to send the game into extra-time.

As the Germans sat on the turf for a quick breather, Ramsey delivered a psychological blow. He kept his players standing and famously barked to his team: 'Look at them! They're finished'.

Both teams battled against weariness as extra-time elapsed, and in the 100th minute more controversy broke out. Alan Ball crossed towards Hurst, who hammered his shot goalwards. It hit the crossbar and bounced down - over the line if you're English or on the line if you're German - and back into play.

EmpicsEngland's Bobby Moore is held aloft with the Jules Rimet trophy.

Hurst was sure it was a goal and turned away in celebration rather than trying to put the ball back in the net, but the referee was not so sure and ran across to consult his Azerbaijani linesman Tofik Bakhramov, who gave the goal.

Try as they might, Germany seemed unable to get back into the match and, as time ticked into the final minute, the home crowd started to pour from the stands - causing BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme to utter his immortal words:

'Some people are on the pitch..'

As Moore hoofs a ball up to Hurst, who charges towards goal...

'..they think it's all over..'

Hurst outpaces the defender and rockets a 35-yard swerving shot into the top corner...

'..it is now!'

Cue the final whistle and scenes of euphoria - 4-2 England.

Hurst had become the first player - and remains the only player - to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final. And player of the tournament Moore led England up the Wembley steps to collect the Jules Rimet trophy. England manager Ramsey, who was often at odds with the FA as he overhauled the England team, was knighted in the New Year's honours list.

Striker Hurst had come from nowhere to win the World Cup - and for Greaves, who he replaced, it would be the end of any more World Cup action.

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