England summoned up the spirit of 1966

George Cohen would have been proud of nephew Ben
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The Independent Online

The comparisons are irresistible. England's 1966 World Cup final victory over West Germany was won in extra-time. England's 2003 Rugby World Cup final was also won in extra-time.

The men in 66 - just like those in 2003 - weren't driven by money - just by the chance to wear the England jersey.

Some of the class of 66 came from unfashionable clubs like Blackpool (Alan Ball), Leicester (Gordon Banks) and Fulham (George Cohen). Yet manager Sir Alf Ramsey made sure there were no cliques in his team.

Club England was all that mattered - and that team spirit came to the fore on a glorious summer's day at Wembley.

On July 30, captain Bobby Moore lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy for the nation for the one and only time.

England celebrated a famous victory following the 4-2 defeat of West Germany after extra time in the World Cup final.

It was a nerve-shredding success yet Ramsey was a picture of calm immediately after the game.

That was hardly surprising, however, as he had predicted that England would win the World Cup when he took the job in 1963.

It appeared to be an outrageous statement even though Ramsey's track record as a club manager had been outstanding.

He had taken Ipswich from the Third Division to the league championship in the space of eight years.

But he soon won over the England players with his attention to detail and professionalism.

With the finals being played in England, they had home advantage. But they stumbled in the opening match, only drawing against Uruguay.

However as the tournament progressed they gained the momentum and prepared to face West Germany.

Banks remains arguably England's best-ever goalkeeper and his self-confidence created a ripple effect throughtout the team.

Cohen was an intelligent right-back, whose career was cruelly cut shot by a knee injury at the age of 29.

On the left flank Ray Wilson was reputed to be the best in Europe.

Moore and Jack Charlton held the defence together. Moore read the game superbly while Charlton was a formidable barrier.

Ramsey decided to go with 21-year-old Ball and his energy and workrate proved crucial during a stamina-sapping extra time.

With Nobby Stiles also putting himself about in the middle of the park despite his slim build, England had a firm spine.

The likes of Bobby Charlton, Roger Hunt, Martin Peters and, probably most important of all, Geoff Hurst, could then go about the business of scoring.

Charlton had power in his boots while Hunt got goals for fun with Liverpool.

Peters was crafty. In fact Ramsey said he was 10 years ahead of his time in the way he played.

Hurst had massive self-belief. He kept going despite being omitted in the group games.

West Germany, however, went ahead only for Hurst to equalise and rekindle the hopes of the England supporters.

When Peters put them in front, the party began in earnest at Wembley and throughout the land.

However West Germany grabbed a controversial equaliser on the stroke of 90 minutes to take the game into extra time.

Then came two moments of magic from Hurst that sealed victory for England and prompted mass hysteria throughout the nation.

Moore lifted the trophy and was then lifted into the air down on the pitch by his jubilant team-mates.

When the celebrations died down Cohen, for one, was glad to get back to normality.

"We had been together such a long time that even Jack Charlton became attractive," he quipped.

Sadly Moore, such an inspirational leader, died 10 years ago from bowel cancer.

But his memory as well as the others who played on that unique day in 1966 will rightly live on.