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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


When England Beat The World And It Wasn’t 1966 (Part 2)

Written by on February 10, 2011 | 10 Comments »
Posted in England, History and Books


You only have to look at the names to realize the quality of the forward line that was on display

France’s Raymond Kopa was the first French player to win the European Cup. Initially he had lead Reims to the first European Cup Final in 1956 only to lose to Real Madrid.

However, Real Madrid signed Kopa (yes, they have been at this for a long time) and he played on the Madrid side that won the next three cups.

In 1958 he was voted the player of the tournament at the World Cup Finals and in the same year he was pronounced European Player of the Year.

Scotland’s Denis Law had returned to English football just over a year before after an unhappy stint in Italy with Torino. Manchester City was the team to sell Law to Torino but it was Manchester United that brought him back.

Law played on the Scotland side that missed out on a trip to the 1962 World Cup Finals when they lost in extra time to Czechoslovakia after leading 2-1 with just six minutes left.

Law was voted European Player of the Year in 1964 became a legend at Old Trafford and would eventually make it to the World Cup Finals in 1974.

There are entire books dedicated to Alfredo Di Stefano so would hope is there to cover it in a few sentences.

Di Stefano is regarded as being a complete player excelling in every facet of the game.

He is best known as a Real Madrid player but enjoyed great success in his native Argentina and Colombia before his move to Spain.

Without Di Stefano’s arrival in 1953 the Real Madrid we know today would not exist. He was twice voted European Player of the Year.

Eusebio was only 21 at the time he was invited to play and had only arrived in Europe two years before from Mozambique.

His impact on European football was almost immediate and he scored twice in the European Cup Final against Real Madrid in 1962 when Benfica won 5-3.

Eusebio would later win the European Player of the Year and was of the great stars of the 1966 World Cup Finals.

His pace, power and shooting made him one of the most dominant players of the 1960s and the primary reason for Benfica’s success and a key to the emergence of Portugal as a feared soccer nation.

Francisco Gento was one of the quickest players ever to play the game as well as one of the most successful.

Gento was part of the great Real Madrid side and would eventually win the European Cup six times- a record still unbroken. Along with Paolo Maldini he holds the record for most appearances in the final – 8.

The substitutes were not half bad either. Goalkeeper Milutin Soskic (Yugoslavia), Luis Eizaguirre (Chile), Jim Baxter (Scotland), Uwe Seller (West Germany) were all magnificent players while the great Ferenc Puskas (Hungary/Spain) replaced Eusebio at half time.

The only two players who were noticeable by their absence were Pele and Garrincha.

Pele was injured at the 62 World Cup Finals so that might explain his absence; in the case of Garrincha there was no clue as to his non-appearance.

However, anyone who read Ruy Castro’s biography of Garrincha would know that he was not the most reliable character in the world – to put it mildly.

Interestingly only four of the England starters that day would be on the same Wembley turf less than three years later when Bobby Moore lifted the World Cup.

Gordon Banks, Ray Wilson and Bobby Charlton would all make the journey although there were others who played in the finals or made the England squad of 22.

Canadian fans will recognize the back-up goalkeeper to Gordon Banks that day.

Tony Waiters would part of Ramsey’s 40-man squad but failed to make the 22 in 1966.

Of course Waiters would manage the Canada side in the 1986 World Cup Finals so he did eventually make it to the World Cup Finals – just not as a player.

Oh yes – and the result was? England won 2-1 with Southampton’s Terry Paine scoring on the hour and Denis Law equalizing with 8 minutes remaining. However, Jimmy Greaves would score the winner right on full time.

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10 responses to “When England Beat The World And It Wasn’t 1966 (Part 2)”

  1. Ogo Sylla says:

    That was a great piece Bobby! It’s funny ’cause I remember my dad telling me about this game when I was a kid lol It all came back to me as you were going thru the lineup for the Rest of the World Team. As a Milan fan though, little sad Gianni Rivera didn’t make it. But there was so many greats to pick from!

  2. Ogo Sylla – Good catch on Gianni Rivera. He played at Wembley five months before when Milan won their first European Cup.

    I was very young at the time but I did see Rivera when Milan played Dundee in the European Cup semi final in April/May 1963. Cesare Maldini and Trap were both part of the Milan team and I believe there was also Jose Altafini who scored both goals in the final to beat Benfica.

    As chance would have it Dundee and Milan were drawn together again in the UEFA Cup in 1971. Dundee lost 3-0 at the San Siro then won 2-0 at Dens Park. The second leg was a terrific game.

    Rivera was so elegant – Fabregas reminds me of him a bit. Then there was the 1970 WCF when the Italian coach used Rivera and Mazzola for a half each.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ogo Sylla, bobbysoccerrep. bobbysoccerrep said: second part of when England beat the world and it wasn't 1966 […]

  4. Soccerlogical says:

    Thanks for this piece and the link. I felt like I was watching “Escape to Victory 2” (same commentator?).

    I don’t know what was worse, Dennis Law missing a sitter in the first half or no advantage rule yet enforced for what should have been the opening goal in the early early stages of the second half.

    Anyhoo, looked like Soskic “accidentally” spilled the ball for England’s winner.


    thanks for the link that was great piece of history.were the top flight players of the 60’s and 70’s able to just play soccer or in the off season did they have off season jobs?

  6. By the 60s after the maximum wage was dumped I don’t think you would find many – if any – of the top players working regular jobs during the summer. (different story once they retired from the game though)

    One interesting side bar though is the reduction of two sport players. You used to find players who played both football and cricket professionally. There was a player Ian Balderstone who played when Carlisle were in the old First Division (late 60s?) and also played for Leicestershire (? opening batsman I think).

    Denis Compton played for England at cricket and was the Arsenal right back. I believe Geoff Hurst played the Essex second eleven and Phil Neville was apparently an excellent cricketer but gave it up to concentrate on soccer.

  7. Theo van Arshavregas says:


    Excellent article. Thank you.

    I’ve read, as you mentioned, that Puskas played a few times for Spain. Was he given special dispensation by the football governing body at the time to change national sides due to the Hungarian Revolt of 1956? And can that be done today (one player playing for more than one national side during his career)? I’m under the impression that once a player plays one game (non friendly) that said player is ‘tied’ to that national side.

  8. For Puskas it was not that straight forward. He was with Honved at the time of the uprising and they were away from the country on tour.

    Puskas defected but the Hungarian authorities made it difficult and applied pressure on FIFA not to grant him a permit to play. Eventually after 18 months or so he was allowed to play and Real Madrid signed him.

    Eligibility was a lot looser then (I stand to be corrected but if you could become a citizen you became eligible) and as well as Puskas many other players played for two or more countries. Di Stefano played for Argentina and Spain.

    László Kubala, the Barca legend, played for Hungary, Spain and Czechoslovakia. There is also the the use of “oriundo” by Italy. Probably the best example was Luis Monti who played in the successive World Cup Finals for two different countries. First with Argentina in 1930 and then Italy in 1934. “Oriundo” are children of Italian parents who emigrated – I think usually to South America.

    Your understanding of the regulations as they presently are pretty much mine.

  9. Himanshu says:

    The Balderstone in question was Chris Balderstone (John Christopher) went by his middlename. He also didn’t open but came 1 down. pretty useful all-rounder, played a couple of tests for England and did put Carlisle at the top of the old Division 1 with a penalty (not that they stayed there long). Chris was a slow left arm orthodox spinner and illingworth a right hand orthodox so we at leicestershire at two yorkshiremen leading our spin attack. spent many a fond afternoon at grace road watching them during my childhood.

  10. Himanshu – you are indeed correct with Chris rather than Ian. Ray Illingworth was a great England captain and a pretty decent batsman as well.

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