Jack Charlton Part 2 - 1966 and all that
After the end of the 1965-66 club season, Jack Charlton set off with the rest of England's World Cup squad for a pre-tournament trip to Scandinavia and eastern Europe. He got his first goal for his country in the win in Denmark. The squad returned to Wembley in good spirits after winning all three games.
There was a setback, however, in the first match of the tournament against Uruguay. England had been expected to win but could not break down a defensive Uruguay and had to settle for a goalless draw. There was a lot of press criticism, but Alf Ramsey had told the players that the one thing they must not do was lose.
2-0 wins against Mexico and France followed and England had successfully made it through to the Quarter Finals without conceding a goal. They were steadily improving with every game they played and their defending was superb.
The Quarter Final against Argentina, however, was a more torrid affair, with their captain Rattin sent off for continual back chat to the referee. The dismissal sparked off uproar with Rattin refusing to go and all the Argentinians protesting. England managed to squeeze through with a headed winner from Geoff Hurst.
That set up a classic Semi Final confrontation with an exciting Portugal side which included the star of the show, the magical Eusebio, who had scored four goals in their memorable 5-3 Quarter Final win over North Korea.
Charlton: "I was probably more anxious about the Semi Final against Portugal than I was about any of the other games. Portugal had this big centre forward, Torres, about six foot tall. He wasn't the most mobile guy in the world and he wasn't that good on the ground, but I knew it was going to be a battle trying to win balls in the air against him.
"Nobby Stiles handled Eusebio brilliantly that day. He didn't let him settle on the ball, he was at his heels the whole time. There was an incident late in the game, almost at full time, when the big guy beat me in the air and knocked the ball down across the goal. Eusebio was coming in on the right hand side - and Nobby Stiles just flew. I have never seen Nobby move so fast, and as Eusebio went to hit the ball Nobby tackled him. It was a certain goal if Nobby hadn't got there.
"Our kid scored two tremendous goals in that game. The first came after the Portuguese keeper had blocked a shot from Roger Hunt. It ricocheted out to our Robert, who calmly side footed it back into the net. After that Portugal had most of the play, but we defended well and kept them out of the box for most of the game. In the second half Geoff Hurst made a break, and then held the ball up while our Robert came charging forward in support. As he arrived, Geoff crossed the ball to him - and our kid slammed it so hard, it screamed in.
"We were winning 2-0, but the big lad was still causing me quite a few problems in the air. Late in the game he chipped the ball over Banksy's head and I was forced to handle the ball, giving away a penalty. Under the modern rules I would have been sent off. Eusebio scored from the penalty kick, his eighth goal of the tournament, and that's how it finished, 2-1. At the end I was in tears as I hugged our kid. We were through to the Final."
England had made it through to the biggest game in their history, the World Cup Final and a massive encounter with West Germany, one of the most celebrated matches of all time.
"I was quite confident that we could beat the Germans. So it was a terrible blow when we went a goal down. I remember it to this day. It was a fairly simple cross into the box, and instead of playing the ball on, the way he should have done, Ray Wilson headed it back up the middle, something you should never do. He mistimed it, it fell to Haller, who had plenty of time to shoot - though funnily enough, he didn't hit it that well.
"I remember standing there, and as the ball came past me, I could have stuck a foot out and stopped it. But it looked as if it was going straight to Banksy.
"Now normally I had a very good understanding with Gordon, but as it happened, it sort of sneaked in between me and him. Maybe he thought I was going to stop it, I don't know.
"Afterwards I always felt I should have stopped it. But when you're a centre back, you let lots of balls go which you could stop because you know your goalkeeper's got it covered. Only this time he hadn't."
England managed to equalise when Hurst headed in from a quickly taken free kick from Bobby Moore, then Jack got involved in the act ... nearly: "The second goal came after Geoff Hurst's shot ricocheted off somebody and came over the top of the centre back just as I was coming in behind. I was thinking to myself, this is coming to me - and then all of a sudden Martin Peters runs in front of me and knocks the ball into the net."
England then started running down the last ten minutes to the full time whistle when, with seconds left, disaster struck.
Jack gave away a free kick just outside the penalty area and there was a scramble which saw the ball spin across the crowded area and Wolfgang Weber force it home at the far post - you could have heard a pin drop in Wembley as the world seemed to stand still. The Germans had equalised and crushed the hearts of the England side.
They didn't crumble, however, and Geoff Hurst's controversial second goal, in the first half of extra time, which bounced down from the crossbar and bounced over the goal line (or did it?) put England ahead again. This time they were surer at the back and were looking more certain of themselves when there was another last minute incident. This time Moore played a long ball up England's left for Hurst to run onto and slam powerfully into the roof of the net past the exhausted German keeper Tilkowski.
"The final whistle went just after Geoff's goal, the game was over, and Geoff stood there with his hands in the air. I ran the whole length of the field just to get hold of him, but as I came near him he ran off and I was too knackered to follow. I flopped to my knees, totally exhausted, and my head fell forwards onto my hands. I don't remember saying a prayer - I probably just said something like, 'Thank the Lord that's over.'"
ENGLAND WERE WORLD CHAMPIONS!