Football World Cup 1966 » Winner – Teams – Statistics – History

The 1966 World Cup Final was won by England on the 30th July 1966 when the English team beat West Germany 4-2. All the semi-finalists in the tournament were from Europe, with England beating Portugal 2-1 at Wembley and West Germany beating the Soviet Union 2-1 at Goodison Park to reach the final.

This was the first time that a team outside western Europe had passed the first round of competition. The matches in the 1966 World Cup Final were characterised by increasingly tactical play and lower scoring matches but they were incredibly popular with fans. Over 98,000 people attended the World Cup Final.

Participating Teams of the 1966 World Cup Finals

There were 16 teams that qualified and played in the 1966 World Cup Finals. Despite 15 African teams competing in the Qualifying rounds, all the African teams withdrew in protest when FIFA confirmed that the winning African teams would have to play off against their Asian counterparts in order to qualify for the Finals.

This provided North Korea with an easy path to the finals after beating their only competitor, Australia. North Korea were joined in the Finals by European qualifiers Bulgaria, England, France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, the Soviet Union, Spain, Switzerland and West Germany. Mexico beat the US and a number of Caribbean nations to win their place as the representative of their region which included North and Central American and Caribbean countries.

The qualifiers for South America were Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.

Winner of the World Cup 1966

England won the 1966 World Cup 4-2 in extra time, in what was one of the most controversial finals the World Cup competition has seen. The first goal was scored by West German player Helmut Haller. Then, in the 19th minute, England Captain Bobby Moore was able to take advantage of a free kick to pass to Geoff Hurst who levelled the score. Both teams again scored after halftime with goals by Martin Peters for England and Wolfgang Weber for West Germany. This pushed the match into extra time.

The English team scored controversially after 11 minutes of extra time when Geoff Hurst shot from close range. This shot hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounced on the line and then went clear off the goal. After consultation between the referees, England were awarded the goal. However, using modern film analysis it has been determined that enough of the ball did not cross the line to be correctly called a goal.

In the last minute of the game, a desperate West Germany sent all their defenders forward in a last-ditch attempt to equalise the match and this allowed England player Geoff Hurst to score his third goal of the match while unmarked. He scored this goal as England fans were streaming onto the pitch, mistakenly thinking that the match had already finished.

England England
West Germany (-1989) West Germany (-1989)
30 July 1966

The Story of 1966 FIFA World Cup

Football World Cup 1966

The 1966 FIFA World Cup was had a special atmosphere and this was in part due to the large audiences, the tensions caused by playing at the height of the Cold War and the prior theft of the winner’s trophy.

  • Massive audiences, both at the matches and on television – The 1966 World Cup attracted an enormous level of interest. Breaking attendance records throughout the series, over 96,000 spectators attended the final, with over 32 million people in the UK watching at home on television. This made the 1966 World Cup Final the highest rating UK television programme of all time and there were an estimated 400 million television spectators worldwide.
  • Political intrigue – Taking place at the height of the Cold War, political intrigues added to the drama. National anthems were not played at matches, apart from the final, as officials did not want to play the national anthems of socialist countries such as North Korea and the Soviet Union. Conspiracy theories were common, with fans and commentators ascribing political motivations to the referees’ decisions. In particular, some West German fans continue to believe the Soviet referee in the final, Bahramov, awarded England the controversial third goal as retribution for the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II.
  • Pickles the dog – Four months before the World Cup Final, the Jules Rimet Trophy that was to be awarded to the winning team was stolen from a cabinet while on public display at a stamp exhibition in London. The thief overcame heavy security and stole the trophy while leaving behind over £3 million worth of rare stamps. A ransom demand was received attached to a portion of the trophy and the police subsequently arrested the sender of the ransom note Edward Bletchley. The remainder of the trophy was found under a hedge by a Border Collie called Pickles. He was rewarded for finding the trophy by being invited to the celebration banquet after the match and his owner was given a reward of £5,000.