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.

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
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

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015