SIR ALF Ramsey, the manager who led England to World Cup glory in 1966, is recovering in hospital after suffering a stroke. He was said last night to be "comfortable" with his wife Vickie and close family at his bedside.
Officials of the Football Association have expressed concern and asked to be kept informed of Sir Alf's condition. "It is terrible that he has fallen ill right in the middle of the World Cup," said an FA source. "We are hoping that an England victory against Argentina will be the perfect tonic for him."
It is thought Sir Alf, 78, was admitted to hospital about ten days ago. Martin Peters, who scored one of England's goals in the Wembley victory over against West Germany, said: "This is a terrible shock. I went to see Alf eight weeks ago and he was fine, still playing golf.
"We wish him well and bearing in mind the World Cup is on, we should remember what he achieved for this country."
Sir Alf, born and brought up in Dagenham, won 32 caps as an England full-back and made 226 appearances for Tottenham. He managed England between 1963 and 1974 - he was knighted in 1967 - and remained upset that there was no role for him after he was dismissed.
His reward for leading England to their Wembley triumph pales alongside today's bonuses. In 1966 it was only enough to buy the unpretentious four-bedroomed detached house that remains his home in Ipswich.
Concern for Sir Alf's health was first expressed in 1993 after he failed to turn up for a memorial service in honour of his World Cup winning captain, Bobby Moore, who died of cancer aged 51.
Ramsey's adopted daughter Tania Jauch, who lives in the United States, denied at the time that he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and insisted he was in "good health".
A spokeswoman at Ipswich Hospital said: "I have spoken to his [Sir Alf's] wife. She said he has had a slight stroke and is resting quietly. He is on a normal ward and is only seeing his family and close friends."