This month in history: England win the World Cup

On 30 July 1966, England beat West Germany 4-2 to lift the World Cup at Wembley Stadium, becoming the third host to win the tournament after Uruguay in 1930 and Italy in 1934.

The 1966 World Cup was held in England between 11 and 30 July. It was the last to be broadcast in black and white, and held the record for the highest average attendance, only being surpassed by the USA in 1994.

The first round

With few goals being scored in the first round of the tournament, England managed to finish top of Group 1 with just 4 goals in total. Bobby Charlton and Roger Hunt scored in the 2-0 victory over Mexico on 16 July, and Roger Hunt hit the net twice in the 2-0 victory over France on 20 July.  West Germany finished top of Group 2, Portugal top of Group 3, and the Soviet Union top of Group 4. The runners-up were Uruguay, Argentina, Hungary and North Korea.

The quarter-finals and semi-finals

The quarter-finals were full of drama. Although West Germany cruised to victory against Uruguay 4-0, the sending off of 2 Uruguayan players marred the occasion. North Korea looked to be heading into the next round after going 3 goals up after 22 minutes against Portugal, only for Eusébio to score 4 to help Portugal to a 5-3 win. 

Elsewhere, Hungary crashed out 2-1 to the Soviet Union, while England’s tie against Argentina at Wembley saw Geoff Hurst score, and ensured a place in the semi-finals for the host nation. During the match, Argentina’s Antonio Rattín was sent off by the German referee Rudolf Kreitlin, but he refused to leave the field, and had to be escorted off the pitch by 2 policemen.

In the semi-finals, England faced Portugal at Wembley. Bobby Charlton scored both goals in England’s 2-1 win, with Portugal’s goal coming from a penalty in the 82nd-minute. The other semi-final between West Germany and Soviet Union also ended 2-1.

The final

On 30 July, 98,000 Wembley Stadium was packed for the final between England and West Germany. The visitors took the lead after 12 minutes, only for England’s Geoff Hurst to level the score 4 minutes later. Martin Peters put England in the lead after 78 minutes, but West Germany clawed one back on the stroke of full-time to put the game into extra time.

In the 98th minute, Hurst found himself on the score sheet again. His shot hit the crossbar, bounced down on to the goal line, and was awarded a goal. Debate has long raged as to whether or not the ball crossed the line, with the goal becoming part of World Cup legend.

Nevertheless, England’s final goal was scored by Hurst, just as a celebratory pitch invasion began. This made Geoff Hurst the only player to have scored 3 times in a World Cup final.

The England team received the Jules Rimet trophy from Elizabeth II, and were World Cup winners for the first, and so far only, time. Between 1967 and 2000, 7 members of the squad were decorated with Queen’s honours. These include: