IT WAS nearly half way through extra time in the 1966 World Cup Final when England scored the goal they had been seeking. Alan Ball centred from the right and Geoff Hurst pivoted and hit a powerful shot against the crossbar which rebounded into the German goal. Or did it?
Television evidence has not proved conclusive because the German goalkeeper, Hans Tilkowski, who had got his fingers to the ball, blocked the view. But the immediate reaction was that England had scored. Roger Hunt, following up, turned round, his right arm raised in celebration, and then a hush settled on Wembley Stadium as the referee, Gottfried Dienst, of Switzerland, crossed to consult with a linesman in response to the pleas of the German players.
The linesman, Tofik Bakhramov, of the Soviet Union, listened intently for a few seconds then, to the great delight of the England players and their supporters, raised his flag in the direction of the half-way line. England led 3-2, and went on to win 4-2.
It was the most controversial decision in the history of the World Cup, one that entered Bakhramov in the lore of the game. The Germans remain convinced that Hurst's shot did not cross the line. 'When they ask me about it, I reply that the ball definitely went in,' Bobby Charlton said. 'I'm convinced it did. But who can tell?'