Johnny's Story

Sunday 17 April 2016 08:00

In 1962, Fulham’s most famous son penned his footballing story so far. It’s All In The Game sees Johnny Haynes regale readers with tales from his career, told at the height of his fame as England captain, and each week on we’ll be serialising his words. This is Johnny’s Story.

Chapter Seventeen – Comes The Revolution (cont.)

Next came the first of the World Cup qualifying matches in which we were drawn to meet Luxembourg and Portugal both at home and away and we set off for the Grand Duchy – and promptly scored nine goals. Some of the gilt was rubbed off our wonderful performance there when we arrived back at London Airport. In the usual way we had been given souvenirs of the match by our hosts; in this case the Luxembourg people had given us electric shavers. But football customs don’t mean much to Her Majesty’s Customs and they charged some of the players duty on them. Some of them – not all. Perhaps the players with ‘previous records’ escaped. I certainly did. Perhaps they thought they had given master Haynes enough of the treatment in the past. Next on the schedule was Spain at Wembley. We knew perfectly well that in playing Luxembourg we had met nothing more than the equivalent of a first-class amateur team but we took heart from the fact that we had not scrambled in the goals. They had all come from fast, sharp passing movements, with clear shooting positions created and chances well taken. The pattern continued against Spain – 4-2 this time. We had seen films of Real Madrid in the European Cup Final at Glasgow and in other matches and they were quite terrific. I didn’t really think we could beat players of that class. But there were other points to note. Winterbottom did not show us the film to terrify us. He wanted us to note how they took corner kicks, free kicks and so on. Then in the Spanish team selection we noted both Suarez and di Stefano in the forward-line. Now each of these players at that time was the dominant mid-field players with his club, Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

"Jimmy Greaves is a remarkable young man. He may well prove to be the greatest goal scorer football has ever known."

I wondered how this would come out in the match and in fact it became rather a private little battle between them as to who would take charge of mid-field control. It ended with Suarez winning and di Stefano, apparently, losing a bit of interest. In addition the weather came to our aid. The rain poured down.

England played really well, scoring a very quick goal from Greaves. Spain settled down, equalised and played very well for a spell in the first half and with luck might have gone ahead but just before half-time we scored another, and with fine second-half goals from Bobby Smith we ran up a pretty solid win against what was a rather badly-blended Spanish team. The next match against Wales at Wembley followed a similar pattern. Goals came from England early in each half, Wales had lots of attractive but inconclusive mid-field play, and it ended 5-1 on the board for England. Twenty-three goals scored for five lost in four matches made very sweet reading.

In both of these matches Greaves snapped up the early goals. Jimmy Greaves is a remarkable young man. He may well prove to be the greatest goal scorer football has ever known. No player has ever had such a facility for being in the right place at the right time in the penalty area, no player has ever had such cold finishing power. Greaves is tremendously fast but deceptively fast. When he is moving with the ball defenders often look like reaching him but in fact they never get close, so smoothly does he accelerate. And when he is in shooting position, all this hectic speed seems to vanish and everything stops and he has all the time in the world to score. All this is an illusion because of his remarkable balance. Since he came back from Italy, I have the feeling that his general mid-field play is even more accurate.

It's All In The Game was published by Arthur Baker Limited.

If you missed our special video featuring George Cohen, Tosh Chamberlain and Fred Callaghan sharing their memories of their teammate and friend Johnny Haynes, then have a watch below.

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