10 - Chile 1962
For me, the tournament in Chile did much to help shape our ambitions in 1966. Alf Ramsey took charge not long after and from day one he really changed the direction of our national team. When he took over from Walter Winterbottom, he made sure he had sole control - previously the team had been picked by a committee.
Alf knew that if England were to be successful and move forward, he needed to have that authority. Chile was by no means a failure, as England reached the Quarter-Final with my old and dear friend Johnny Haynes in the side. But there were lessons to be learned, both on and off the pitch.
Alf also recognised the need to bring in fresh talent; he wanted to build a side around the likes of Gordon Banks, Ray Wilson, Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore and Johnny. Those were six genuine world-class players; and with them in the squad anything was possible.
As we know, Johnny had that very serious car accident not long after the 1962 World Cup, and he would never play for his country again – despite enjoying several fine seasons in Fulham colours. He’d won 58 caps, 22 as captain and was expected to lead England out on home soil four years later. It’s such a shame that never happened.
I was handed my international debut by Alf, and the likes of Nobby Stiles, Alan Ball, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst made their breakthrough, while Bobby Moore and Roger Hunt became regulars. In those four years that proceeded Chile, England slowly and surely built something special. We had a real mix; we had players that could score goals and players that defended like their lives depended on it to keep them out. Alf instilled a determination from front to back.
Going into the tournament in 1966 we were quietly confident but, if I’m honest, I don’t think any of us could have foreseen what would unfold...
Head back to the official website on Tuesday as George continues his countdown…