Friday, July 11, 2014

11 July 1966 - England's First Step To World Cup Glory

On 11 July 1966, England and Uruguay played to a scoreless draw in the opening match of the 1966 World Cup Finals before a crowd of 87,000 at London’s Wembley Stadium.

The draw was particularly disappointing for the hosts. In 1963, after Brazil eliminated them from the previous World Cup in the first knockout round, the English FA appointed Ipswich boss Alf Ramsey as the national side’s first professional coach and he began to build a team and a system to compete for the trophy when the World Cup came to England. He did not lack for confidence and, shortly after his appointment, he boldly predicted that England would win the next World Cup.

Ramsey had made several controversial decisions leading up to the World Cup, including giving the captain's armband to young defender Bobby Moore and switching England's formation from their traditional 4-2-4 to a 4-3-3. The new formation, which moved one of the forwards back into the midfield, had helped England defeat defending European champions Spain 2-0 in December 1965.

Against Uruguay, however, the English midfield struggled to advance in support of the forwards, resulting in too little offensive power and a 0-0 draw. The draw called Ramsey's prediction into question, but England subsequently found its offense in 2-0 wins over Mexico and France to finish on top of its group, then proceeded to defeat Argentina (1-0), Portugal (2-1), and West Germany (4-2, a.e.t.) to claim its first World Cup trophy.

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