The start of England’s 55-year wait – Banks’ glow at the 1966 World Cup
Banks, who joined Chesterfield in 1959, before winning the inaugural City League Cup five years later, remains the only Leicester player to ever achieve a World Cup triumph at the Club. The 1966 success, meanwhile, remains a benchmark for the England national team – a moment of unbridled joy for the whole country – which is regularly considered its greatest sporting moment of all time. English fans, of course, are praying for more this summer.
Founded 90 years ago, in 1930, the Three Lions didn’t actually enter the World Cup until 1950, when a team including Alf Ramsey suffered a humiliating defeat to the United States in Brazil.
In 1963, Ramsey was England’s manager and, in addition to committing to challenge major honors, the former Dagenham-born defender refused to allow teams to be selected by a committee as was the case before. There were tactical innovations too, as Ramsey moved away from a traditional 4-2-4 system and preferred a 4-4-2 ploy, which earned his England team the nickname “Wingless Wonders.” “.
As the country braced for the arrival of football extravagance in the self-proclaimed “home of football”, there was drama even before a ball was kicked as the Jules Rimet Trophy vanished from the surface. Earth in March. It was stolen from a public display at Westminster Central Hall and a nationwide trophy hunt has started in earnest, though the story’s conclusion is almost too surreal to be believed.
With police and citizens all determined, but stunned, in their attempt to locate the trophy in time for England’s opening encounter with Uruguay, a dog named Pickles sniffed it under a hedge in the south -est of London. The show could ultimately precede without a hitch, although the competition was shaken up earlier by the decision of 31 African countries to boycott it, opposing the number of places they were allocated.
In the end, 16 teams participated; England, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Hungary, Soviet Union, West Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, North Korea, Mexico and Switzerland.
The eight stadiums, meanwhile, represented an equal representation of the nation and included White City (London), Old Trafford (Manchester), Villa Park (Birmingham), Goodison Park (Liverpool), Hillsborough (Sheffield), Roker Park (Sunderland). ) and Ayresome Park (Middlesbrough) as well as Wembley (London), which will host the flagship final on July 30, 1966.
Banks, on the other hand, would have been forgiven for associating Wembley with disappointment after Leicester’s “Ice Kings” side suffered two heartbreaks in the FA Cup final in three years under the leadership of Matt Gilly. The Foxes have enjoyed some success in the League Cup, however, although that triumph – the club’s first major piece of silverware – was contested over two innings against Stoke City at Filbert Street and the Victoria Ground.
While a 0-0 draw with Uruguay on Day 1 of the World Cup included a draw, it undoubtedly brought more frustration for Banks and his colleagues, who were expected to win. England remained at Wembley throughout the competition and the No.1 City got three more shutouts in the next two group stage matches, a 2-0 win over Mexico and a win by the same score against France.
Their quarter-final match against Argentina sparked controversy as Antonio Rattín was sacked for dissent and, to make matters worse, the Boca Juniors midfielder refused to leave the pitch.
Geoff Hurst, who actually started the competition behind Roger Hunt and John Connelly in the attacking pecking order, sealed a 1-0 win for the Three Lions – as Banks recorded another clean sheet. Portugal, who beat North Korea’s surprise forfeits in a 5-3 thriller at Goodison Park, were next for Ramsey’s boys in the semifinals, as West Germany faced the Union Soviet, also in Liverpool.
Favorite Brazil meanwhile missed the round of 16 after the absence of Três Coraç Peles-born superstar Pelé for their 3-1 loss to the Portuguese through injury.
England also found Portugal a difficult proposition and Banks were beaten for the first time by a penalty from Eusébio, who had been effectively chained by Nobby Stiles until then. Luckily for the Three Lions, however, by the time Eusebio’s shot on goal rippled the net at Wembley – the first goal Banks had conceded in 721 minutes of regular play – Ramsey’s men were already two goals in good shape. , thanks to a pair of efforts from Bobby Charlton.
In the preparation of the game, there was also some drama behind the scenes. In the previous days, coach Harold Shepherdson reportedly forgot to buy Banks’ chewing gum of choice, which the Leicester shooter regularly used to make his gloves stickier. A last minute run to a nearby newsagent on the corner of Wembley, just as the teams were starting to line up in the tunnel, finally put Banks at ease.
Naturally, the Foxes keeper stayed in goal for England’s first-ever World Cup final, which pitted them against West Germany under the iconic Twin Towers at Wembley Stadium.
The match itself was broadcast on television across the country, drawing an audience of 32.3 million viewers, while Her Majesty The Queen hopefully watched it from The Royal Box. Even though football in 1966 was second to none in the global spectacle it is today, the final truly captured the nation’s imagination and a crowd of 96,924 people joined the monarch inside Wembley.
At the center of it all was Leicester City’s Gordon Banks – a source of immense pride for the Club to this day.
England fell behind on an effort from Helmut Haller after just 12 minutes, but in the 89th minute Hurst and Martin Peters had combined to give the hosts a slim 2-1 lead. Disaster struck in the later stages, however, when Lothar Emmerich’s free kick fell on Wolfgang Weber in the penalty area and Banks could do nothing to prevent the FC Köln defender from leveling.
The biggest football game in the country’s history ended with 30 minutes of nerve-racking extra time. The Germans also threatened the most, but Banks hijacked anything they could muster.
With Banks keeping guard at the back, Hurst made his name legendary with two goals to win the World Cup for England. His famous second was a major talking point, but with fans already on the pitch, the game was already over. As the Jules Rimet shone in sunny London and Nobby danced on the Wembley turf, Banks – Leicester City’s sole World Cup winner – finally got his hands on the famous trophy.
Over the course of his career, Banks made a total of 754 national and international appearances between 1958 and 1977, leaving a lasting legacy as one of the 20th century’s greatest players in all positions.
Speaking to club historian John Hutchinson in 2018, a year before Gordon passed away at the age of 81, his personality shone as the couple discussed this special day in England’s history .
“Wearing an English jersey has always been a great honor, but wearing it to the final of the World Cup, the biggest tournament in the world, was wonderful,” said Banks.
“No team knows what’s going to happen in such an important competition, but there we were, standing in that Wembley tunnel, waiting to come out, and I’ll tell you… wow, what a day! song of the national anthem, then there was the queen who came down, wished us all the best, and then, in the end, to be able to run on the field with the world cup in hand!
“It was a wonderful, wonderful day. None of the players there could forget that.”