There’s a lot every man and his dog – or every David and Pickles – know about the 1966 FIFA World Cup™. Which country won it, which player netted thrice in its Final, which player received the Jules Rimet Trophy from Queen Elizabeth II. There are some things that, perhaps, you do not know about its champions – and they are intriguing…
years later, two memorable features of England’s campaign became lyrics in the chart-topping Three Lions song by David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and The Lightning Seeds. “Bobby belting the ball” referenced Charlton’s thunderbolt against Mexico, while “Nobby Dancing” alluded to Stiles celebrating victory in the Final by comically boogying with the Jules Rimet Trophy in one hand and his false teeth in another!
and 109 days: that is the age that makes Bobby Moore the second-youngest World Cup-winning captain. Daniel Passarella was 78 days younger when he skippered Argentina to gold in 1978. The oldest captain was Italy’s Dino Zoff, who was 40 years and 133 days when he lifted the Trophy in 1982.
internationals is what Jack Charlton participated in in 1966 – a record for an England player in a calendar year. The figure is made more impressive by the fact that Leeds United centre-back only debuted for his country the previous year when he was almost 30.
minutes is all that remained until England kicked off their semi-final against Portugal when trainer Harold Shepherdson realised he had forgotten to buy chewing gum, which he habitually gave Gordon Banks to rub on his hands to facilitate catching the ball. Shepherdson hurried from the tunnel to the nearest newsagents, made the purchase, and got back to Wembley in the nick of time.
stitches is what Jimmy Greaves, who entered the competition having scored 43 goals in 51 internationals, suffered in the final group game against France. “England won’t win the World Cup without Greaves,” warned pundit Jimmy Hill. Tottenham Hotspur’s former AC Milan striker missed the games against Argentina and Portugal, but was declared fit for the decider. Despite a huge public clamour for his inclusion at the expense of Geoff Hurst, who had just two England goals to his name, Ramsey refused to change a winning team. Hurst then became the first – and to date only – man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup Final.
hours and one minute is what Gordon Banks went without conceding for England until Eusebio converted a late penalty for Portugal in their semi-final. Since being beaten by a rocket from Scotland’s Jimmy Johnstone, Banks had kept clean sheets against Yugoslavia and Finland ahead of the tournament, and Uruguay, Mexico, France and Argentina in it. Banks’ 721 unbeaten minutes remains a record for an England goalkeeper.
years and 49 days: that is what Ian Callaghan had to wait for his next England cap after winning his second in their final group game against France. The gap between those appearances is an England record.
pm was the time Ramsey, without fail, would enter his players’ entertainment room and, regardless of whether they were in the middle of a game of cards or nearing the end of a film, declare "goodnight gentlemen” as he turned off the lights.
caps: that is what Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst, the men who scored England’s four goals in the Final, had between them going into the tournament. The scorers of Brazil’s four goals in the next World Cup Final carried 220 caps into Mexico 1970!
consecutive victories over West Germany was what England ended the Final with. Since a 3-3 draw in their maiden meeting in 1930, the Three Lions had won every instalment of the fixture, scoring 21 and conceding seven. West Germany then won the next three matches between the teams. As Greaves famously said: "It’s a funny old game."
votes is the small margin with which England won the right to host the eighth World Cup in 1960. Ironically they beat West Germany 34-27 in a Rome ballot.
tonnes is the weight of The World Cup Sculpture – a striking bronze statue near Upton Park depicting an iconic photograph taken in the aftermath of England’s triumph. It shows Moore, perched on the shoulders of Hurst and Ray Wilson, holding aloft the Trophy, with Peters beside them. Moore, Hurst and Peters played for West Ham, who tied Borussia Dortmund (Hans Tilkowski, Siggi Held and Lothar Emmerich) for the most representatives in the Final. It was the work of Philip Jackson, the sculptor to Queen Elizabeth II, standing almost five metres tall, and was unveiled by Prince Andrew in 2003. Jackson nonetheless used some artistic license. Wilson had been grimacing on the photo – “I was our oldest player, I’d just played 120 minutes and Bobby was a big lad” – but is shown smiling.
teams have failed to win their first match and gone on to lift the Trophy, with England being the first due to a goalless draw with Uruguay in 1966. They were emulated by Italy, who were held 0-0 by Poland in their 1982 curtain-raiser, and Spain, whose triumphant 2010 campaign began with a 1-0 loss to Switzerland.
England players had nephews who went on to earn celebrity in alternative entertainment genres. Gordon Banks once bought a drum kit for his brother David’s son Nick, who went on to have hits such as Common People as part of Pulp. Meanwhile Ben Cohen, whose uncle George was a rapid right-back, became a speedy winger who helped England win the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
autographs is what England’s players and coaches signed after walking an hour’s round trip to the cinema on the night before the Final. The hosts had shunned London’s plush five-star hotels to stay at modest Hendon Hall, and they went to see comedy film Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines without being bothered. “It’s astonishing when you compare it to what players deal with today,” said Hurst. Perhaps locals thought twice about approaching the England players. In an episode of American sitcom Frasier, decades later, Daphne Moon recalled: “My Uncle Jack once tried to get Bobby Charlton's autograph, until Bobby cracked him over the head with a can of lager. 12 stitches, and he still has the can!”