Profiles - World Cup Teams - England
England From Geoff Hurst's hat-trick in the Final to images of captain Bobby Moore lifting the Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley, the 1966 World Cup remains the ultimate moment of triumph in English sporting history.

Yet the real story surrounding England's route to glory against Germany in one of the tournament's most famous Finals can only be told by those fortunate enough to be involved in Sir Alf Ramsey's squad.

And as midfield terrier Nobby Stiles confirmed to Soccernet, the summer that was destined to deliver the ultimate prize produced more than a few twists and turns along the way.

With the nation's expectations riding high, the hosts failed to live up to their billing in a dour 0-0 draw with Uruguay in their opening game under Wembley's Twin Towers.

After coach Ramsey had insisted his side would win the trophy, the media scented blood, but the players got over their setback in original fashion.

'We were playing Mexico that weekend, but Alf decided the squad needed to get away from it all and took us down to Pinewood Studios, where a James Bond film was being made,' reflects the little battler, who had shot to stardom with Manchester United.

'Sean Connery was there with Yul Brynner and George Segal. They put on a big open air buffet for us and we all got well pissed.

'The media had a field day saying we should be out preparing for the Mexico game, but it was the best thing Alf could have done. It relieved all the pressure and when it came to to the Mexico game, they were all waiting for us to fail. We didn't. Bobby Charlton scored a great winner.'

From there, England progressed through to a famous quarter-final with Argentina, but if it were not for Ramseys belligerence, Stiles' tournament would have been brought to a premature end at that point.

'I caught a French lad called Simon with a terrible tackle in our final group game and got booked,' he concedes.

'The media crucified me and it looked like I'd be out of the team. But we were at Highbury on the Friday practising free-kicks and Alf came up to me and told me I was in. Little did I know that the FA told him to drop me, but he'd told them he would resign if I didn't play.'

It was a decision that gave the young Stiles his chance to complete a remarkable rise to the top after he made his Wembley debut in an England schoolboy international in front of 90,000 spectators, with his first full international coming against Scotland in 1965. He recalls a touch of fatherly advice that stood him in good stead before his first game here.

'My Dad had been to a few Cup Finals over the years and he made a very useful observation as players came out of the tunnel,' continues Stiles. 'Those who came out with the heads down looking a bit nervous never had a good game, he told me.

'So when I got the chance to play at Wembley, he encouraged me to get my head up, look around and take it all in. That's what I always did and it seemed to be a recipe for success.

'It was walking up that tunnel that you really felt the magic of Wembley. And the World Cup Final was the ultimate. You could not have had a prouder moment in your career and I think we all appreciated that at the time.

'Then when they played the national anthem you got that tingle down your back. It's difficult to say whether they can reproduce the feeling you get when you walk into the arena and hear the roar of the crowd.

'That was unique to Wembley and there's no doubt it played a part in the stadium becoming the best in the world throughout the twentieth century.'

Stiles' finest hour was to dawn on July 30th 1966. Yet as Germany scrambled a late equaliser to send the World Cup Final into extra-time, the momentum appeared to have swung their way, though Ramsey had other ideas.

'The Germans were all flat out on the Wembley turf before the start of extra time and Alf pointed that out to us,' he says. 'Jimmy Greaves came up to me, put his arm on my shoulder and told me to keep going, which was nice considering he had been left out by Alf and was hurting.

'We had to win. When I saw Geoff Hurst's shot hit off the bar and Roger Hunt wheel away when he had a chance to push it over the line, I knew it had crossed the line. The goal was given and that was it.' homepage