Remembering every member of the England World Cup winning team
Utter the year 1966 and every football fan will know it was the year that the Three Lions won their only World Cup. Ask them to name the team and fans under a certain age will struggle with more than a few high profile names. Here we have a rundown of the entire England World Cup winning team.
The England World Cup winning team – The Final
Where better to start with our squad overview than the XI that played that fateful day of 30th July 1966 at Wembley stadium.
Gordon Banks, Goalkeeper
Former Leicester keeper Banks, who is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of all time, came into the World Cup with two clean sheets in his last two international matches. That theme continued in the World Cup with three shutouts in the group stages before another in England’s 1-0 quarter-final win over Argentina. The semi-final saw Banks beaten for the first time in over 12 hours of game time for England. Even then it took an 82nd minute penalty from the Portuguese great Eusebio who won the Golden Boot with a nine goal return. Yep, Banks conceded two more in the final but who cares.
George Cohen, Right Back
Cohen’s position in England’s back four was far from nailed on ahead of the tournament with Jimmy Armfield another possibility. Sir Alf Ramsey though opted for the Fulham stalwart and he went on to play every minute. Given the narrow midfield set up, Cohen’s tireless running was an important weapon in the offensive phase of play. He played a big part in what proved to be the vital goal in England’s 2-1 quarter final win.
Jack Charlton, Centre Back
Charlton was by far the more unfashionable of Ramsey’s centre back pairing. His combative style of play and concentration was seen as the perfect foil to allow the more talented Moore to ‘go and play’. England had a mean defensive record heading into the final, which Charlton was a big part of. Had West Germany gone on to win the game though then his conceding of a freekick late in normal time might have lived much longer in the memory given that Helmut Schon’s men levelled the game from the said set piece.
Bobby Moore, Centre Back
Everyone knows Bobby Moore. He’s one of the best centre halves to ever play the game and he’s certainly the best England have produced. It is therefore fitting that he was the man to captain the England World Cup winning team. His ability to bring the ball out from the back was a part of the game that was ahead of its time and, on top of his defensive contribution, he stepped up in the final by providing the assist for England’s first goal courtesy of a quickly taken freekick. It showed off his intelligence and ball playing qualities.
Ray Wilson, Left Back
Former Huddersfield and Everton full back Wilson came into the 1966 final as the oldest member of Ramsey’s squad at the age of 31. Like Cohen on the other side, there were question marks over whether or not Wilson would be first choice at the tournament. Ramsey had given others a chance to impress in the build-up. He opted to go with the experienced head of Wilson, who made his half century of caps in the semi-final, and it paid off. The one black mark to Wilson’s name is being at fault for the opening goal of the final when failed to put enough on his defensive header. Despite his winners medal, he’s rarely mentioned in conversations about the best left backs ever.
Nobby Stiles, Centre Midfield
England played a 4-4-2 formation with the ‘wide’ midfielders playing more narrowly in something more like a diamond. The Manchester United legend was the mobile ball winning midfielder of the four and was tasked with man-marking duties throughout the World Cup campaign. He was a boss at it too. The best evidence being the fact he had Eusebio in his pocket during the semi-final.
Bobby Charlton, Centre Midfield
Another name that has rightly been put up in lights over the years is Bobby Charlton. With Stiles the more defensive minded of the central midfield pair, Charlton was afforded the opportunity to contribute more to the attack. His contribution to the 1966 success cannot be underestimated despite the fact it isn’t he who hogs the headlines of that triumph. Charlton, who was England and Man United’s record goal scorer until Wayne Rooney outdone him for both, netted three goals in total during the tournament. Two of them came in the semi-final victory.
Alan Ball, Right Midfield
Ball, who was once England’s most expensive transfer, was the youngest member of the squad at 21-years-old. Ball made a total of four appearances during the finals earning huge compliments for his engine, which fuelled his non-stop running, and his ability to retain possession. Given the drama of the final, it’s often overlooked but Ball was instrumental in half of England’s four goals. He took the corner that led to England’s second whilst his energy allowed him to beat Horst-Dieter Hottges in extra time to deliver a low ball to Geoff Hurst who made it 3-2.
Martin Peters, Left Midfield
When the 1966 tournament got underway, Peters only had three caps to his name. His debut had only come in May 1966. He didn’t play in the opening game of the competition but came into the fold against Mexico in the second group game. He kept his place moving forwards with his ability to go either way owing to his two good feet a huge threat for the team alongside his skilful manipulation of the ball. His crowning moment in an England shirt though came in the final when he slammed home a close range half volley to give England a 2-1 advantage.
Geoff Hurst, Striker
Of course, the legend that is Sir Geoff Hurst was playing at centre forward. We don’t need to tell you that Hurst played himself into the history books with a hat-trick in the final, which by the way, means he’s the only man to ever hit three goals in a World Cup final. What you might not know though is that the general public were calling for him to be left out of the final in place of Jimmy Greaves. Greaves had just returned to fitness after suffering an injury in the final group stage and boasted a much better goal scoring record than the inexperienced Hurst, who only had two goals from six caps ahead of the match with West Germany. Ramsey remained loyal to Hurst after he’d scored one and assisted another from the two knockout games played. It’s fair to say that faith was paid back.
Roger Hunt, Striker
The final member of the XI was Liverpool hero Roger Hunt who played upfront alongside goal hero Hurst. Hunt himself had a very decent tournament having chipped in with three goals from his six appearances. All three of his goals came in the group stage as the Three Lions beat Mexico and France to make it into the knockout stages but it was far from the end of his contribution. For starters, he set up one of the goals for Charlton in the semi-finals and, with controversy surrounding Hurst’s second goal in the final, it was he who first turned to insist the ball had crossed the line. An influence that might well have been crucial to Tofiq Bahramov’s decision making.
So, that’s the XI that played the final but football is a squad game…
Jimmy Greaves, Striker
Greaves was an established international when the World Cup came around. He started played all three group matches but injury caused him to miss most of the knockout phase. We’ve already touched on the fact fans wanted him in the starting XI for the final. The fact he didn’t play is probably his biggest contribution given what happened!
Ian Callaghan, Right Midfield
Callaghan might be Liverpool’s record appearance holder but his England career was rather odd. His only action at the 66 World Cup came in the group match against France. It was his second cap for the Three Lions. He had to wait another 11 years for his third cap and only won four in total.
John Connelly, Right Midfield
You have to feel for Connelly a little. He had won multiple caps before being left out of the 1962 squad and when 1966 came around he would have been delighted to get the nod to start in the opening game. It was England’s worst performance and Connelly wouldn’t play for the national team again as Ramsey moved to a formation that didn’t suit his game.
Terry Paine, Right Midfield
Paine was in a similar situation to Connelly. He had won his fair share of caps (18 to be precise) before the tournament but the one match he played at the World Cup proved his last ever action for England. Again, much of that was down to his preferred position not fitting the adapted style England played in the following years.
There were a further seven players that made up the squad but, unfortunately, they never made it onto the grass. They were Peter Bonetti, Jimmy Armfield, Gerry Byrne, George Eastham, Ron Flowers, Norman Hunter and, last but not least, Ron Springett.
That’s that, the England World Cup winning team. Each and every one of them is worthy of legendary status.