World Cup ball bounces back from '66

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The Independent Online
In a move that would delight every Euro-sceptic, England's World Cup winners of 1966 are asking the Germans: "Can we have our ball back?" With the 30th anniversary of English football's most famous day fast approaching, a frantic search has been launched for the ball with which Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick when Alf Ramsey's team beat Germany 4-2 in the World Cup final.

According to the Sun newspaper, after exhaustive inquiries by them, the ball was found in the cellar of Jurgen Haller, son of Helmut who was in the German side at Wembley 30 years ago. Apparently Haller Snr, who scored the first goal of the game, snaffled the famous orange ball at the final whistle, stuffed it up his jumper and took it back to Germany before you could say Kenneth Wolstenholme.

Over the years, whenever Haller has been approached on the subject he has always evaded the issue, hinting that the ball was lost. But after persistent badgering from British journalists, it seems he has finally given in and may even be flying to England to present the ball to Hurst.

"They [journalists] kept pestering me," Haller said yesterday. "They have been phoning me for the last three days. They kept saying that the ball belonged to England. But I told them it belonged to me."

Last night, however, it emerged that the ball may not be in Haller's court after all. Hurst's agent, Dave Davies, is still expecting the ball to be presented next Tuesday at an official 30th anniversary show in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, by a German from Dusseldorf whom he simply knew as "Wolfgang". His father, Mr Davies said, had apparently bought the ball at an auction in Germany some years ago.

"Everyone's saying they've got the ball, but as far as I'm concerned I'm still expecting to see the real one on Tuesday," Mr Davies said, before adding that Hurst could not comment as he had been paid by a certain tabloid newspaper not to do so. We may think it's all over...