in 1966 it was England's turn to host the World Cup. The FA
organized the tournament in an exemplary manner and the
stadiums used were probably the best overall selection of
stadiums used for any World Cup celebration up to date. The
attendance figures were amongst the best ever recorded. But
the teams of this 1966 tournament failed to produce the
excitement and skills of what some of the past great teams
like the Hungarians in 1954 and Brazil of 1958 and 1962 had.
England were the best team of a rather poor selection of
entrants. Sadly, the game had become more defensive, and
individual skills had to make way for those of the tacticians.
The months leading up to the tournament contained lots of
drama. The Jules Rimet trophy was stolen at an exhibition in
March and FIFA prepared themselves to stage the World Cup
without the trophy! Thankfully a dog named Pickles found
it wrapped up in newspaper in some bushes in South London just
a week after the theft.
The tournament got underway with England and Uruguay playing a
goalless draw at Wembley. England qualified from their group
as winners without conceding a goal. The new top team in world
football was Portugal. The won all their three first round
games and even knocked out twice winner's of the cup Brazil.
Pelé just as in 1962 got kicked out of the competition.
Another surprise was North Korea's contribution to this World
Cup. Their victory over Italy is one of the all-time greatest
shocks in world football. The defeat sent Italy home as well.
England beat Argentina in a match England coach Alf Ramsey
described the South Americans as "Animals". He
refused to let his players swap shirts with them after the
match! North Korea led 3-0 over Portugal at one stage and
looked like reaching the semis, but then Eusebio knocked in
four goals and Portugal eventually won 5-3.
The semifinals saw the Germans beat the Soviet Union 2-1. A
young Franz Beckenbauer scored West Germany's second goal.
Bobby Charlton stopped Portugal and Eusebio's run in the World
Cup when he scored twice to send England to the final. Eusebio
scored his ninth goal in the bronze match when Portugal beat
the Soviet Union, and that was some consolation. The final
produced lots of drama as England faced West Germany at
Wembley. England eventually won in extra-time and became the
third host nation to win the World Cup. Read more about the
final and its drama, by clicking on the "Final" link
in the left column.