Ray Wilson dead: Former England footballer and 1966 World Cup winner dies, aged 83

Former left-back player 266 times for Huddersfield Town as well as Everton, Oldham Athletic and Bradford City

Jack de Menezes
Wednesday 16 May 2018 15:12
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The Three Lions star (pictured holding trophy) celebrates with his teammates
The Three Lions star (pictured holding trophy) celebrates with his teammates

Ray Wilson, a member of the 1966 World Cup-winning England side, has died aged 83.

Winning 63 caps for his country, Wilson started the final against West Germany as the oldest member of the victorious World Cup side at 32 years old, while also representing the Three Lions during their 1962 World Cup group games as well as their quarter-final exit at the hands of Brazil.

At domestic level, Wilson joined Huddersfield Town as an 18-year-old having been spotted playing amateur football while working as an apprentice railwayman before completing two years of military service in Egypt.

Wilson remained a regular attendee at the John Smith’s Stadium despite suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

He went on to make 283 appearances for Huddersfield between 1952 and 1964, when he completed a move to Everton where he spent five further years that included an FA Cup win in the same year as the World Cup success before short-term spells at Oldham Athletic and Bradford City.

The late footballer remains Huddersfield’s most capped England international, and the club posted a message of condolence on Twitter after hearing the news of his death.

“#htafc is devastated to learn of the passing of @England World Cup winner Ramon ‘Ray’ Wilson MBE at the age of 83,” the Huddersfield tweet read.

“He was a regular supporter at home match days alongside his eldest son Russell despite battling Alzheimer’s disease.

“The thoughts of everyone at Town are with Ray’s wife, his sons and the rest of his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Wilson was the oldest member of the winning Three Lions side

Wilson is remembered just as fondly at Everton as he was at Huddersfield, and when the two sides met in the Premier League in April this year, the fixture was designated Ray Wilson Day.

Speaking of his former Everton teammate, Joe Royle said: “You had a speedy ex-winger who certainly was not going to be beaten for pace,” said Royle. “Ray led the onset of a new breed of full-backs. Prior to Ray, they had all been sentinels, big, tall lads. Maybe third centre-backs, rather than full-backs.

“He is a World Cup winner and played in the last England team that had four, maybe five, world class players… and he was certainly one of those.

Wilson tackles French footballer Philippe Goudet at the 1966 World Cup

“He was the best of his kind at the time. And he was a top guy, always there with a smile or a helpful word. I played a few reserve games with Ray and it was like listening to a maestro. He knew his stuff.”

The Football Association quickly followed Wednesday’s 2018 World Cup squad announcement with a statement acknowledging Wilson’s death, and said: “We are shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of World Cup winner Ray Wilson. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Wilson is survived by his wife, Pat, and sons Russell and Neil.

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