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Football World Cup 1966

1966 was the year that the Football World Cup went back to the country that first conceived football: England.

It was a World Cup that had a rather unusual hero off the field, a dog called Pickles. In the build up to the tournament the Jules Rimet trophy had been stolen from an exhibition display. A nation wide hunt for the icon ensued. It was later discovered in some newspaper as the dog sniffed at some bushes in London.

Table of contents
1 Participants
2 Winners and losers
3 The Final


Meanwhile on the field it was pretty much the usual crowd, All qualified from the European nations, along with the host nation England.


Joined the defending champions Brazil from South America. Mexico qualified from Central and North America, and North Korea of the Asian contingent made 16.

Winners and losers

Despite achieving record attendances at the time, it was a World Cup with few goals as the teams began to play much more tactically and defensively. This was exemplified by Alf Ramsey's England as they finished top of Group A with only four goals to their credit, but having none scored against them.

Uruguay were the other team to qualify from that group at the expense of both Mexico and France.

In Group B West Germany and Argentina qualified with ease as they both finished the group with 5 points, Spain managed 2, while Switzerland left the competition after losing all three group matches.

In the North West of England, Old Trafford and Goodison Park played host to Group C which saw the World Cup holders, Brazil, finish in third place behind Portugal and Hungary and so were eliminated along with Bulgaria.

Group D, however, provided the biggest upset when North Korea beat Italy 1-0, and finished above them, earning themselves qualification along with the USSR. Chile finished bottom of the group.

The Quarter Finals provided an easy victory for West Germany as they cruised past Uruguay 4-0.

It appeared as though the surprise package North Korea might do the same to Portugal when after 22 minutes they were in the lead 3-0. It fell to one of the greatest stars of the tournament, Eusebio, a 19 year old playing for Benfica at the time, to change that. He scored four goals in the game and with Augusto adding a fifth in the 78th minute, one of the most incredible fight backs was complete.

Meanwhile in the other two games, Bene's late goal for Hungary against the USSR proved little more than a consolation as they crashed out 2-1, and the only goal between Argentina and England came courtesy of England's Geoff Hurst to win the match 1-0.

Both Semi Finals finished 2-1, Franz Beckenbauer providing the winning goal for West Germany as they beat the USSR. While Bobby Charlton scored both goals in England's triumph against Portugal. Portugal went on to beat the USSR 2-1 to take third place.

The Final

Bobby Moore with Jules Rimet trophy
London's Wembley Stadium provided the venue for the Final, and 97,000 people crammed inside to watch.

After 12 minutes Haller had put West Germany ahead, but the score was levelled by Geoff Hurst four minutes later. Martin Peters put England in the lead in the 78th minute, England look set to claim the title when the referee awarded a free kick to West Germany, the ball was launched goal-ward, and Weber managed to poke it across the line.

With the score level at 2-2 at the end of 90 minutes, the game went to extra-time.

In the 98th minute Geoff Hurst found himself on the score sheet again, when his shot hit the crossbar and was controversially deemed to have crossed the line by the referee. It didn't matter however as Hurst netted his third in the 120th minute, just as the gathered crowd invaded the pitch to celebrate with the team. Geoff Hurst is the only player ever to have scored three times in a World Cup Final.

BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme's description of the match's closing moments has gone down in history: "Some people are on the pitch. They think it's all over." (Hurst scores) "It is now!"

England received the recovered Jules Rimet trophy from Her Majesty the Queen and were crowned World Cup Winners.

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