ALF RAMSEY first caused concern by giving his England players a two-week break at the end of the domestic season. He then summoned his 28 finest, and fresh, to a Lilleshall training camp. Six of them missed the greatest chapter in England's history. Supporters still argue about Jimmy Greaves being left out of the final side, but rarely dispute Ramsey's decision to leave John "Budgie" Byrne out of the squad. Byrne, back to his best after a knee injury on his last England appearance a year before, seemed a certainty after his recall to the Lilleshall 28. Not to Ramsey; the five others he upset were the Chelsea striker Bobby Tambling, the Blackburn defender Keith Newton, Everton's Brian Labone and Liverpool's Gordon Milne and Peter Thompson. Few agreed when Hurst pipped Byrne for a squad place, few agreed when Hurst pipped Greaves for a team place, but they all agree that England won the World Cup.
MANY England players and their supporters believe the class of 1970 were even better than the winning squad of 1996. Alf Ramsey had most of his World Cup-winners in tact and exciting new talent had also emerged. Ramsey took a provisional squad of 28 on a warm-up tour of Colombia and finally decided to axe Bob McNab, the Arsenal left-back, the Manchester United duo Brian Kidd and David Sadler, Liverpool's Peter Thompson, Ralph Coates, then of Burnley, and a young Leicester City goalkeeper by the name of Peter Shilton. The goalkeeping position proved to be decisive when Bonetti blundered in the quarter- final as a replacement for Gordon Banks. It was another eight years before England qualified again, but Shilton was still around for his time in the world's greatest tournament, going on to win 125 caps and play in the 1982, 1986 and 1990 finals.
ENGLAND had the oldest squad in Spain, with nine players aged 30 and over. The main surprise selection was the Brighton defender Steve Foster, 24, who had won only two caps. Foster admitted: "I wasn't expecting to go so when I hadn't heard anything by the afternoon, I went out to play golf. I heard the news on television when I came off." Contentious selections included Trevor Brooking and Kevin Keegan, who both travelled injured. Ron Greenwood's 22 started out as a 40-strong squad and the main men to miss out included Russell Osman, Dave Watson and Alvin Martin at the back, the midfielder Alan Devonshire, the wingers Peter Barnes and Trevor Morley, and the striker Paul Goddard. Cyrille Regis had been another contender, but had to pull out in advance with a hamstring injury. Of the discarded, only the West Ham defender Martin showed sufficient form to make the next England squad four years on.
BOBBY ROBSON, cast aside when Alf Ramsey named his 1966 squad, in effect ended the international careers of Trevor Francis and Tony Woodcock when he selected his first World Cup party 20 years on. "They were in my first squad four years ago and they were almost in this one at the last shout. I regret leaving them out," Robson said at the time. "If I take everyone who had been recommended to me, I would be taking a group of 57." Of the other players who had featured in qualifying games, the defender Mark Wright, victim of a broken leg, was left out along with the midfielder Steve Williams and the forwards Paul Mariner and Peter Withe, who had both made the trip in 1982. Of the players overlooked, only Wright would return for his country four years later in Italy. Steve Hodge and Peter Beardsley were greeted as the surprise selections for Mexico.
ARSENAL'S Tony Adams and David Rocastle were the principal omissions from Bobby Robson's predictable squad. Adams, who had played in the ill- fated 1988 European Championship, lost out to Mark Wright, then of Derby, who was included despite suffering with a thigh injury. Robson said: "He [Adams] looked a gold nugget when he first came into the side. He's had a marvellous season and, in four years, he could be the captain of England." Rocastle had played in most of England's qualifying games. Robson said: "He'll be a leading figure in the next World Cup as well." Well, the next World Cup has been eight years coming for England and Adams finally gets his chance. Arsenal's Alan Smith and Chelsea's Dave Beasant were the others cut from the final squad. Beasant, still active with Nottingham Forest, was called up when David Seaman broke a thumb in Italy. Smith retired in 1995 and is now a journalist.Reuse content