On this day in 1966: England's World Cup odyssey begins

Monday 11 Jul 2016
The 1966 World Cup would of course end in glory for England

England’s hosting of the World Cup started on this day 50 years ago with the opening ceremony at Wembley followed by England’s first Group One fixture against Uruguay.    

Four years of planning lay behind it. Everything which was humanly possible had been done to ensure that the World Cup should be presented in a manner as near to perfection as could be visualised.

For competing teams, for officials, for all the services for the dissemination of news and information, and for the vast army of spectators.

Therefore 11 July 1966 was a day of enormous importance. 

The opening ceremony was simple, yet colourful. 

The 1966 opening ceremony was a 'colourful but simple' affair

Sixteen parties of schoolboys, dressed in the colours of the competing countries, were each preceded into the Stadium by a flag-bearer. 

After Her Majesty the Queen had declared the Finals open, Alf Ramsey’s England took to the field against an uncompromising Uruguayan side which may well have regarded a draw as a moral victory.

The South Americans began negatively. A fierce long-range shot from Cortes was turned away for a corner by Gordon Banks – but that proved to be a rare moment of aggression by Uruguay and possession was mainly England’s. 

Few chances were created by the World Cup hosts in the first half but an even more determined approach after the break almost brought its reward on several occasions.

England's 1966 World Cup campaign began in frustration with a 0-0 draw against Uruguay

Mazurkiewicz turned a John Connelly flick round a post and the Manchester United winger then headed against the bar. 

He held his head in his hands but found that he had been given offside anyway. 

Another Connelly effort, a back-heel from Jimmy Greaves’s pass, missed by inches and it ended in – for England – a frustrating 0-0.

But from there on, it all changed for the Three Lions and the rest, as they say, is history.

England won their remaining five matches of the tournament... and were crowned world champions.

By FA Staff