In 1966 Alf Ramsey managed England to success in the World Cup Finals in England. It was a dream fulfilled for the former Tottenham player who had predicted the victory when appointed.
Alf Ramsey – the Player
Alf Ramsey started his professional football career with Southampton during the Second World War. He joined Tottenham in the summer of 1949 and was Spurs regular right-back until retiring in 1954. During his time at Tottenham he was part of the Push and Run team which won promotion and the 1st Division title in successive season. He won 32 caps for England and was a member of the team in the 1950 World Cup Finals in Brazil.
In Bob Goodwin’s book, The Spurs Alphabet, he describes Ramsey as, ‘a really stylish, unflappable defender; a careful, precision passer who combined power with polish……..’
On retirement, Ramsey went into management.
Alf Ramsey – the Manager
Ramsey was appointed manager of Ipswich Town in 1955 who were in the Third Division (South). He led them to the title and promotion in 1957 and followed it with promotion to the 1st Division as champions in 1961. In the 1961-62 season, he achieved the same feat with Ipswich as he had achieved as a player with Tottenham 11 years earlier. Ipswich won the 1st Division title and deprived Tottenham of a second successive title.
At Portman Road, Ramsey devised a system which suited his players with a deep lying centre-forward and withdrawn wingers. In that first season in the top flight clubs struggled to cope with his tactical plan. In the following seasons, however, Ipswich found it more difficult and were relegated in 1964 but by that time Ramsey had taken over as England manager.
Alf Ramsey – the England Manager
On his appointment as manager of England Alf Ramsey put himself under pressure immediately by predicting that England would win the World Cup in 1966. He was appointed in October, 1962 but didn’t take on the full-time responsibility until the following May. His first competitive match in charge of England didn’t go as planned with a 5 – 2 defeat in France.
As England were hosts they had automatic qualification for the Finals so Ramsey was able to focus and prepare the team for the ultimate test in 1966.
1966 World Cup
England played their three group games at Wembley. They drew the opening game against Uruguay, defeated Mexico 2 – 0 and recorded a similar result against France to top the group. In the last group match, Jimmy Greaves was injured and missed the quarter-final tie against Argentina. Geoff Hurst replaced him and scored the only goal of a tempestuous match. By now Ramsey has dispensed with wingers and with Greaves still unavailable, he retained the same team for the semi-final win over Portugal.
West Germany awaited England in the Final at Wembley and Ramsey had a decision to make as Jimmy Greaves had recovered from his injury. Ramsey decided to stay with his team which had reached the Final but his omission was a shattering blow to Greaves.
Ramsey saw Hurst with a hat-trick and Martin Peters score the goals as England defeated West Germany 4 – 2 after extra-time. His team of “Wingless-Wonders” had won the World Cup.
Alf Ramsey’s dream was complete and his prediction made over three years earlier had been been fulfilled on 31st July, 1966. He had finally revoked the demons of the shock 1950 World Cup Finals defeat to the USA.