England 4-2 West Germany AET 30 July 1966
World Cup final, Wembley Stadium, England
Scorers: Hurst (3), Peters (England), Haller, Weber (Germany)
1966 and all that was the scene of England’s greatest football achievement. The USSR took the UFWC title into the 1966 World Cup tournament, but West Germany beat them 2-1 at the semi-final stage. England then saw off Portugal by the same scoreline to set up an epic encounter. For the final, 96,924 spectators crammed into Wembley Stadium, and an estimated 400 million people tuned in on TV. Then it was game on as England and West Germany contested both the World Cup and the Unofficial Football World Championships.
The Germans took the lead through Helmut Haller after just 16 minutes, but England quickly struck back with a header from Geoff Hurst. Martin Peters gave England the lead in the second half, but an 89th-minute Wolfgang Weber equaliser saw the match go into extra-time. ‘You’ve won it once, now win it again,’ England manager Alf Ramsey told his side. His players didn’t disappoint. Hurst’s controversial crossbar/goal-line strike is still disputed to this day, but his stunning 120th-minute hat-trick goal could not be denied. England won the World Cup and, some might say more importantly, the UFWC to become the undisputed official and unofficial football world champions.
TV viewers were treated to commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme’s legendary proclamation, ‘Some people are on the pitch. They think it’s all over… It is now!’ and then, as Bobby Moore lifted the Jules Rimet trophy, ‘It is only 12 inches high… It is solid gold… And it undeniably means England are the champions of the world!’ The victorious players were whisked off to a boozy reception at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington. PM Harold Wilson was in attendance wearing a World Cup tie, but the guest of honour was Pickles, the two-year-old mongrel who found the trophy under a hedge after it was stolen by mysterious thief ‘The Pole’.
Amid the post match celebrations, German goalscorer Haller nicked the match ball, but kindly returned it to hat-trick hero Hurst a full 30 years later – after The Mirror newspaper coughed up £80,000. But let it be noted that not all Germans were ungracious in defeat. The Bild am Sontag reported, ‘England are 1966 world champions. Bravo. The players from the Motherland have done it for the first time.’ Many years after the event a group of boffins at Oxford University used computers to prove that Hurst’s second goal had not, in fact, crossed the line. No one in England cared one jot.