There are now 17 footballers from the England team which won the 1966 World Cup who have sadly died following the announcement of George Cohen’s passing on Thursday.
England won their only international honour after defeating bitter rivals Germany 4-2 at Wembley Stadium 56 years ago.
The 22 players in Sir Alf Ramsey’s squad went down as legends, who so far have never been emulated. Friday brought the tragic news of Cohen’s death, aged 83.
A statement from former club Fulham read: “Everyone at Fulham Football Club is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of our greatest ever players – and gentlemen – George Cohen MBE.”
Only five players from that squad are still with us now. From the XI that started against Germany, only Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Geoff Hurst remain.
Bobby Moore – Defender (12 April 1941 – 24 February 1993)
Moore captained England to World Cup glory and is regarded as one of the finest defenders of his generation. Pele once named Moore as his toughest opponent. The West Ham United legend died of bowel cancer aged 51. A statue of Moore is currently in front of Wembley Stadium.
Bobby Moore. (Image Credit: Alamy)Alan Ball – Midfielder (12 May 1945 – 25 April 2007)
Ball was the youngest member of the England squad, aged 21 when becoming a world champion. His £220,000 transfer from Everton to Arsenal in 1971 was a national record at the time.
Alan Ball. (Image Credit: Alamy)John Connelly – Forward (18 July 1938 – 25 October 2012)
Connelly perfectly summed up what it was like being a footballer from another era. He went from a joiner to a World Cup winner with England before purchasing a fish and chip shop owner in retirement. Connelly ran ‘Connelly’s Plaice’ with his wife Sandra for 31 years before selling up in 2003.
John Connelly. (Image Credit: Alamy)Ron Springett – Goalkeeper (22 July 1935 – 12 September 2015)
Springett’s final game came just before the finals, but he still made the squad after impressing at the 1962 tournament. He kept a pocket book of his opponents’ preferred penalty shootout techniques handy.
Ron Springett on the far left. (Image Credit: Alamy)Gerry Byrne – Defender (29 August 1938 – 28 November 2015)
Byrne spent his whole club career with Liverpool, winning two league titles and the FA Cup. He was on the transfer list when Bill Shankly arrived in 1959. Safe to say that didn’t last long.
Gerry Byrne. (Image Credit: Alamy)Jimmy Armfield – Defender (21 September 1935 – 22 January 2018)
Another one-club man, Armfield enjoyed 17 years at Blackpool. The local lad made 627 appearances in all competitions, even holding the captain’s armband for a decade.
Jimmy Armfield (L). (Image Credit: Alamy)Ray Wilson – Defender (17 December 1934 – 15 May 2018)
Wilson became an undertaker after stepping away from football in 1971. He was more akin to a modern right-back, itching to bomb forward and offer support on the flanks.
Ray Wilson (R). (Image Credit: Alamy)Gordon Banks – Goalkeeper (30 December 1937 – 12 February 2019)
Banks is the greatest goalkeeper England has ever produced. Second only to Lev Yashin in the International Federation of Football History & Statistics’ [IFFHS] best goalkeepers of the 20th century rankings, his save against Brazil in 1970 was called the best he’d ever seen by Pele.
Gordon Banks. (Image Credit: Alamy)Martin Peters – Midfielder (8 November 1943 – 21 December 2019)
Peters’ nickname was ‘The Ghost’ thanks to his awareness in the box and ability to drift away from defenders. Everyone knows Sir Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick in the final, but the other goal came from Peters.
Martin Peters. (Image Credit: Alamy)Peter Bonetti – Goalkeeper (27 September 1941 – 12 April 2020)
Bonetti was Banks’ understudy at the 1970 World Cup. Banks was struck down with illness prior to a rematch with Germany in the quarter-final stages. Germany won the game 3-2 after England went 2-0 up, with many blaming Bonetti. Not the way a player with over 700 games for Chelsea deserves to be remembered.
Peter Bonetti. (Image Credit: Alamy)Norman Hunter – Defender (29 October 1943 – 17 April 2020)
Hunter didn’t play a game at the World Cup as Bobby Moore and Jack Charlton established themselves as the starting centre-back duo.
Norman Hunter. (Image Credit: Alamy)Jack Charlton – Defender (8 May 1935 – 10 July 2020)
Older brother of Bobby, Jack would become a successful manager. He took the Republic of Ireland to their first World Cup finals in 1990, reaching the quarter-final stages.
Jack Charlton. (Image Credit: Alamy)Nobby Stiles – Midfielder (18 May 1942 – 30 October 2020)
Manchester United legend Stiles was as tough as they come. He, Bobby Charlton and Ian Callaghan are the only three English players to win the World Cup and European Cup. Sudell Street in Collyhurst, where Stiles was born, was renamed ‘Nobby Stiles Drive’ in 2016.
Nobby Stiles. (Image Credit: Alamy)Jimmy Greaves – Forward (20 February 1940 – 19 September 2021)
‘Greavsie’ enjoyed prolific spells with Chelsea, West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur at club level. He scored 357 goals during his career in the top-flight, the most of any single player. He had a successful media career following retirement.
Jimmy Greaves. (Image Credit: Alamy)Roger Hunt – Forward (20 July 1938 – 27 September 2021)
Hunt was a part of the same Liverpool team as Byrne. Interestingly, he holds the honour of having the first goal shown on BBC highlights show Match of the Day.
Roger Hunt. (Image Credit: Alamy)Ron Flowers – Midfielder (28 July 1934 – 12 November 2021)
Flowers was the oldest member of England’s squad, turning 32 during the tournament. He spent 15 years with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Before that, he was a member of the Royal Air Force.
Ron Flowers (R). (Image Credit: Alamy)George Cohen – Defender (22 October 1939 – 23 December 2022)
Cohen’s only major honour in his career was the World Cup. Not a bad one to have. Fulham vice-chairman Tony Khan called Cohen ‘the ultimate gentleman’ in a tribute on Friday.
George Cohen. (Image Credit: Alamy)Sir Geoff Hurst echoed Khan’s comments of Cohen in a message of his own posted to Twitter.
He said: “Very sad to hear my friend and England teammate George Cohen has died.
“Everyone, without exception, always said that George was such a lovely man.
“He will be sadly missed, my heartfelt thoughts are with George’s wife Daphne and his family.”
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