The story of the game as England beats


Ahead of a replay of the entire 1966 World Cup final, Sports Mole looks back at the history of the match that gave England their greatest sporting moment of all time.

July 30, 1966 remains the greatest date in the history of English sport, when Sir Alf ramseyThe ‘Wingless Wonders’ have been crowned world champions for the first and so far the only time.

The image of Bobby moore hoisting the Jules Rimet trophy in the air, while it was simultaneously lifted like a trophy by his beloved teammates, is the most iconic in the history of Englandthe football team, majestically capturing the essence of the day.

Almost 97,000 people gathered at Wembley and over 32 million more were watched on television – still the most watched event in UK history, which is remarkable considering the sheer numbers of people additional who now have televisions.

Another generation of fans will have the chance to watch the full game when it airs today, and mark the occasion here. Sporty Taupe looks back on the history of one of the most action-packed World Cup finals of all time.

© Reuters


England won the draw and started in front of a fervent Wembley crowd as the hosts made the bold choice to continue with Geoff hurst up front rather than star striker Jimmy strikes.

Greaves was arguably the England squad’s best finisher – arguably in world football at the time – but Ramsey felt Hurst had done enough throughout the tournament to advance to the final.

It was a call that turned out to be extremely controversial at the time and still does to this day, although given what happened there is no doubt that it was the right call.

ENGLAND XI: Banks; Cohen, J Charlton, Moore, Wilson; Stiles; Boule, B Charlton, Peters; Hunt, Hurst

GERMANY XI: Tilkowski; Hottges, Schulz, Weber, Schnellinger; Beckenbauer, Overath; Haller, Seeler, Outfit, Emmerich

Both sides were graced with world-class talent, but arguably the most enthusiasm surrounded England Bobby charlton and Germany Franz Beckenbauer – at this stage only 20 years but already on the way to legendary status.

Many predictions boiled down to this battle; whichever star midfielder outscoring the other would lead his team to victory.

As it stands, the two managers made the fascinating decision to pit them directly against each other – Charlton was given the scoring job on Beckenbauer and vice versa.

In doing so, Ramsey and West Germany chief Helmut Schon willingly sacrificed potentially their most influential players in order to delay the influence of the other team’s equivalent.

While neither midfielder had the impact they had enjoyed until this point throughout the tournament, it meant the stage was set for others to write their names in folklore.

West Germany struck first, needing just 12 minutes to break the deadlock and silence the Wembley crowd.

Ray wilson was the man from England at fault, only erasing a Sigfried held cross to Helmut Haller, who hit before firing Gordon Banks in the lower corner.

The German advance, however, lasted six minutes; Wolfgang overathEngland’s foul earned England a free kick as captain and center-back Bobby Moore floated into the box, finding his West Ham United teammate Hurst completely unmarked to nod at home.

It was not until the 77th minute for the next goal, and it came from an improbable figure like Martin peters – another mainstay of West Ham – scored what appeared to be the winner.

Hurst was involved again as his shot from outside the box took a wide deflection and looped into the area, where Peters was the quickest to respond with a well-controlled volley. Hans Tilkowski.

England withstood mounting West German pressure as the final 13 minutes went by and appeared to have secured the trophy until the visitors won a free kick in the 89th minute, when Jack charlton was sanctioned.

What followed was one of the most publicized goal races in football history, with Lothar EmmerichFree kick deflected from the wall but landed at Held’s feet inside the box.

His strike hit his own man Karl Heinz Schnellinger to send it bouncing off the face of the goal, where Wolfgang weber was in the right place at the right time to shoot past a scrambled Banks and force overtime.


Having come close to victory, the English players were understandably distraught when the end of the 90 minutes arrived.

Cue Alf Ramsey, who has proven he has that rarest and most valuable attribute in great managers of producing the perfect team speech at the greatest moment.

The notorious disciplinarian dragged his players off the pitch and refused to let them sit in a message to the Germans that England were still fresh and ready to go for another 30 minutes.

It sent a physical message, and its words – like “you already won it once, now go out and win again” – helped rebuild players’ mental toughness immediately after such a devastating blow.

It worked almost instantly; Less than five minutes after the restart, Bobby Charlton had hit the post and sent another effort from narrowly to the side.

Six minutes later came arguably the most controversial moment in World Cup history, and a question we still don’t have a definitive answer to today: Did the ball cross the line ?

The English will say yes, the Germans will say no – you can make up your own mind by looking.

Either way, Hurst swivels and shoots the inexhaustible Alain ballThe cross was given after shooting under the crossbar and bouncing behind the goalkeeper, and apparently also behind the line.

Arbitrator Gottfried Dienst consulted the USSR line judge Tofiq Bahramov, who gave the green light to award the goal, sparking debate, arguments, euphoria and anger equally among the 400 million viewers worldwide.

The decision was so notorious that Bahramov has a stadium named after him in his native Azerbaijan – arguably the only linesman to have received this honor – while the crossbar is now on display at Wembley.

Today’s best tech suggested that the whole bullet didn’t cross the line, but today’s cited Roger ChasseCelebration as the closest English player as proof that he has done it. If he hadn’t believed it was over the line, Hunt could have tried to pull the rebound.

Once the dust settled, Germany found themselves forward for an equalizer again over time, having no choice but to make themselves more vulnerable in defense as a result.

One of those German attacks ended with Moore retrieving the ball and, despite screams from his teammates to just clear his lines and get danger as far as possible from Banks’ goal, the skipper displayed the kind of coolness that had become his trademark.

Moore took his time picking a long pass over defense for Hurst, who came through the goal with a exhausted and disorganized backline nowhere in sight.

Sir Geoff Hurst scores England's fourth goal in the 1966 World Cup final© Reuters

Legend has it that Hurst was not as calm as his teammate Moore and was just trying to kick the ball as far as he could into the Wembley crowd behind the goal when he put his laces in a thunderous left-footed strike.

The actual result was even more useful as the ball flew into the top corner, leaving Tilkowski rooted in place as Hurst completed his hat trick – still the only one to ever come in a Men’s World Cup final.

This lens would be pretty iconic without the commentator’s immortal line. Kenneth wolstenholme beside it: “And this is Hurst. He has … people are on the ground, they think it’s over. It’s now! He’s four!”

The final whistle sparked celebratory scenes never seen before or since in football terms for England, with Nobby stiles dancing, Moore wiping his hands before receiving his medal, then lifting the biggest prize in the sport with an almost understated sense of modesty.

Ramsey’s entire team will be forever remembered on that great day, and they remain the benchmark by which all future generations of England teams will be judged.

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