Football came home in 1966 as Alf Ramsey’s ‘Wingless Wonders’ went on to win the World Cup for the first time.
From Pickles the dog to World Cup Willie and the debate over just whether the ball did really cross the line, the eyes of the sporting world were fixed on Wembley.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look back at the 1966 World Cup.
The dog who saved the World Cup
The theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy while it was on public exhibition at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster during March 1966 led to one of the biggest investigations in Scotland Yard’s history.
Three days later a package containing the top of the trophy and a typed ransom note demanding £15,000 arrived at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground for Joe Mears, who was also chairman of the Football Association. Middleman Edward Betchley was eventually arrested for his part in mailing the package.
It was seven days after the theft when David Corbett was walking his dog Pickles in Norwood, south London and the Collie discovered the rest of the trophy wrapped in newspaper near his neighbour’s car.
Pickles hit international headlines and was awarded a medal by the National Canine Defence League, while Corbett received payouts from sponsors and the cup’s insurers of almost £5,000.
World Cup Willie
The tournament was the first to use a mascot as World Cup Willie captured the imagination of fans, young and old. The lion in a Union Flag jumper had been designed by children’s book illustrator Reg Hoye. The idea soon caught on and would be the start of a tradition which continues to this day – some more memorable than others.
They think it’s all over….
England had played all of their matches at Wembley, which started with a laboured goalless draw against Uruguay. After edging out Argentina 1-0, with Geoff Hurst scoring having replaced the injured Jimmy Greaves in attack, two goals from Bobby Charlton helped England defeat Eusebio’s Portugal 2-1 to reach the final against West Germany.
On July 30, 93,000 spectators – which included the Queen and Prince Phillip – packed out Wembley, while an estimated global television audience of 400million watched on in black-and-white.
West Germany had silenced the home crowd when Helmut Haller put them ahead after 12 minutes but Hurst soon equalised when he nodded in a free-kick from captain Bobby Moore.
Martin Peters then swept in what looked to have been the winning goal after 78 minutes – only for Wolfgang Weber to knock in a late equaliser to force extra-time.
Ramsey’s men lifted themselves again, and Hurst swivelled on to a cross from Alan Ball to crash the ball up on to the crossbar and down, with Roger Hunt wheeling away in celebration.
After consulting ‘Russian’ linesman Tofiq Bahramov, who was from Azerbaijan, referee Gottfried Dienst awarded the goal – in a moment which still causes debate to this day.
With seconds remaining, though, Hurst made sure of England’s triumph when he raced clear as Germany pushed up, as BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme described: “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!”
Hurst is still the last player to have scored a hat-trick in a World Cup final – and 1966 remains the only time an England captain has lifted the trophy.
54 years of hurt.. and counting
Since reaching the World Cup final, generations of England players, managers and fans alike have all come so near, yet so far to repeating the dream.
There was the heartbreak of a semi-final penalty shoot-out defeat against West Germany at Italia 90 and Gazza’s tears, then Gareth Southgate’s Young Lions again coming up just short at Russia 2018.
England Women also suffered the disappointment of a second semi-final defeat at the World Cup in France last summer, as the wait goes on for a repeat performance of the achievements of that balmy summer at Wembley.