Banks of England: On the morning of our final we popped out to buy the paper

World Cup-winning legend pulls no punches

The great thing about tonight's World Cup final is that there's going to be a new name on the trophy – just as there was when we won it for England.

That day in 1966 will always be with me. Not just the 4-2 win over West Germany, Geoff Hurst's hat-trick and Bobby Moore lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy, but the little things. At 8.30 on the morning of the game, half a dozen of us left our hotel for a stroll down Hendon High Street in north London to stretch our legs. There was no security, just Ray Wilson, Alan Ball, Big Jack Charlton, George Eastham, Roger Hunt and me. I remember popping into a newsagent's to buy a paper. I can't imagine the Spanish or Dutch lads doing the same today!

People were coming up and wishing us well. We weren't exactly mobbed, though we were advised to nip out the back because even then there were a few hundred people waiting to give us a send-off. When we left for Wembley there were 2,000 outside, waving union flags and cheering. That made us realise, if we didn't already, how big the stakes were, which got the nerves going. Normally for an international we'd have a couple of card schools at the two tables on the coach. This time everyone sat in deathly silence with their faces at the windows.

In the dressing-room I remember trying to keep to my normal pre-match rituals – making sure, for instance, that my boot-laces were tied in a way that wouldn't interfere with my kicking. I got my cap, gloves and spare tie-ups for the other lads organised. Nobby Stiles made endless trips to the toilet, George Cohen read the programme and Martin Peters drank tea.

Alf Ramsey came round, reminding us of particular things he wanted us to do. And the lads who didn't play shook our hands, which was fantastic. Nobby had asked Ian Callaghan to look after his dentures and give them back if we won so he'd look good in photos. The pictures of him dancing around with a toothless grin tell their own story. It was a lovely day.

Obviously I'd hoped England would be playing for the trophy in Johannesburg. It wasn't to be, but it's great that there will be a South Yorkshireman in the final for the first time since yours truly 44 years ago. Howard Webb has stood out among the referees in South Africa and deserves his chance. I understand he was once a sergeant with the Sheffield constabulary in Attercliffe, right next to where I grew up in Tinsley. I hope he also has a day to treasure forever.

Looking back on the finals, I have to say I was expecting more. I was looking to the big names – Rooney, Ronaldo, Torres, Messi, Ribéry and the rest – to deliver something people would be talking about for decades. It hasn't really happened. People tell me "that's the way the game is played today; teams want to defend and try to nick a goal". Unfortunately it does not make for great entertainment.

I kept waiting for somebody to set the tournament alight, for a young player to come through and get us excited. Again it hasn't happened. However, I liked Germany. If they had played the semi-final as they did the two previous games, they could have been in the final. I can understand Joachim Löw telling them not to go too gung-ho early on and leave space for Spain to exploit but they didn't go for the jugular until they went behind, which cost them dearly.

Two players caught my eye. Diego Forlan produced classy passes and ferocious shots when more vaunted players seemed unable to master the ill-conceived Jabulani ball, while Bastian Schweinsteiger, with those bulging eyes, had that perpetual motion thing Alan Ball used to have. Yet there hasn't been one epic match. The BBC talked up Spain v Germany as a classic but it was too cagey for that.

Spain and Holland are passing sides but I'm afraid the final will turn into a cat-and-mouse stalemate. Holland have shown typical European workrate and organisation, and they've match-winners in Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie. Wesley Sneijder has had a particularly good tournament. I'm not surprised Manchester United are interested because he has a touch of the Paul Scholes about him.

But Spain have a bit more flair, with the passing of Xavi and Andres Iniesta plus the finishing of David Villa, and are perhaps stronger defensively. Iker Casillas has enhanced his reputation as a solid, agile keeper and he's protected by two big centre-backs, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, which reminds me of playing behind Denis Smith and Alan Bloor at Stoke! I expect them to snatch it.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices