World Cup winner and Laureus World Sports Academy Member, Bobby Charlton looks back to the 1966 World Cup. A moment that proved to be the greatest ever success of English football.
"I don’t think we ever dreamed of winning the World Cup, but it was in 1962 when the seeds for 1966 were there. I remember young players like Bobby Moore were coming into the action and there was a lot of real interest in the football that England was producing.
We played quite a lot and we won quite a lot leading up to ’66. I remember thinking, when I was looking at the team that had been selected, this is as good as anybody.
We did not talk a lot, we usually left that on the training ground. It was a tough World Cup, there were some really great teams playing, but we had been on tour and had beaten everyone.
The system was 4-3-3 and Alf Ramsay, who was the manager at the time, was convinced that was what we were best suited to, so that took a lot off your mind. Players were picked to play [in that system] and a lot of managers would not have picked them: players like Nobby Stiles, who was not an attractive footballer but he was a hard nut and we needed somebody like him; my brother, Jack, big centre-half, who could head everything all day; George Cohen, not a classical footballer, but he never was defeated by any of the wingers that used to come up against him; Bobby Moore, it was quite early for him to be a World Cup captain, but he was perfectly suited to it.
If you were going to win the World Cup, you had to get players that had character. Every time that 11 English players went onto the field, you could think ‘it’s going to take a good team that’s going to beat us’, and that turned out to be the case.
I felt from the first that we were going to win the World Cup. Alf Ramsay had said yes, we will win the World Cup and everybody went ha-ha, you know, a few guffaws in the media, but nevertheless, after the first match, which was a 0-0 draw with Uruguay, I remember thinking, well, a draw, that’s going to be the most that we are ever going to concede.
The pressure of expectation was there, but it was something that we could handle."