The Jules Rimet trophy was stolen on this day in 1966.
It might have been appropriate to call in the facially hirsute Hercule Poirot when the Jules Rimet trophy was stolen on 20 March 1966 but it turned out to be a far hairier hero who came to the rescue.
In a bid to whet the appetites of football fans, FIFA had arranged for the World Cup trophy to be on show at a public exhibition in London’s Westminster Central Hall, just four months before the tournament was due to kick-off at Wembley. Some punters, however, were a little more eager to 'lift' football’s grand prize before Bobby Moore and his Three Lions got their chance.
Despite tight security the trophy was swiped from the exhibition, leaving FIFA and The FA having to explain to holders Brazil where their famous prize had gone. The South Americans were understandably none too pleased, claiming the crime was sacrilege and that such heinous behaviour would never happen in Brazil.
Scotland Yard were quick to send in their best men to investigate the theft, providing a description of a suspect they were keen to question: “early 30s, of average height, thin lips, greased black hair and a possible scar on his face” – really narrowing it down in 1960s London...
However, the boys on the beat turned out to be no match for the dog on the street, as a mongrel mutt named Pickles became a national hero and discovered the stolen trophy under a bush in a suburban garden in South London.
Thanks to Pickles the trophy was returned to the Brazilians, but only briefly. England went on to win the ’66 tournament and claim the Jules Rimet for themselves.
Ironically, the same trophy – which had been given to Brazil in perpetuity after winning their third World Cup in 1970 – was stolen once again in 1983. This time, however, it was never found.