It was a football of passes, only one player dribbled, there was very little precision in the maneuvers, it was not customary to play from behind, the ball was used excessively, it defended considerably less than now, there were large spaces to move and the stars that we had as such in our imagination were not, at least not in that game. What are we talking about…? From the ’66 World Cup final, which England beat Germany 4-2. The beauty passed through another side, through simplicity and the lack of speculation.

Throughout his life, this chronicler has seen 15 World Cups, 11 in situ and four on television, the first of them -England 1966- delayed; The film of each game arrived two days later and we enjoyed it with the same relish as live. Since Mexico ’70, when the satellite appeared, the transmissions were live. It is not easy to remember in detail something that happened 57 years ago, which is why we have set ourselves the journalistic goal of seeing the 15 finals again, an exercise that demolishes many myths. We had already started with Argentina 3 – France 3. Only three months after it was played, we already had another impression from when we saw it in person on December 18.

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England won the 1966 World Cup.

How was that football…? Very different from the current one, more elementary, above all. The old hose that before was slower but more precious is not correct. Zero fantasy. There were large free areas where to move, however prodigies with the ball were not seen. The players lacked the individual technique of the current ones. A 9 like Benzema would have been a deity at that time, due to his exquisite quality. And, at least that July 30, 1966, it was not raining, the ball did not weigh two kilos and nobody was kicking. They just played how they played. And we are referring to England and Germany in a world final. There was only one strong tackle in the 120 minutes played: Höttges, Werder Bremen’s right-back, hung it on Alan Ball so that it would not escape from the tip. So that strength cannot be raised. Ball, a 21-year-old Blackpool winger, was the outstanding figure of the afternoon, he faced every play and was brave.

Yes there was mobility, they were not bolted into their posts. Nobby Stiles, Bobby Charlton, Alan Ball, the famous German forward Uwe Seeler, they were modern, they moved all over the pitch. The goalkeepers Banks and Tilkowski, when they covered a shot, took out firing a shot from fifty or sixty meters, without destination, but well away from their goal. Several defenses too. Especially striking is the case of Schnellinger, well known at the time for being from Milan in Italy. It was a disappointment to see it. Every time he received a ball he hit the other field with everything, no matter if there was a teammate nearby or not.

The TV was in black and white, with a single camera on the side, the goals were barely repeated (only once and without slow motion). The narrator limited himself to pronouncing the last names: “Charlton… Stiles… Moore…” With a few exceptions, he did not incur comments or additions. The plate with the stopwatch and the result were not included on the screen, they barely showed a clock every fifteen minutes that marked that a quarter of an hour had passed. There were no substitute benches because there were no changes, whoever was left out of the starting eleven looked at him from the stands. Nobody was booked or sent off, the red and yellow cards had not yet been implemented. Neither added time was indicated; Exactly at minute 90, the referee ended the duel. The same with the two supplements, not a second of additions. There were 96,924 spectators at Wembley that afternoon, but it did not mean an important encouragement, murmurs were hardly heard, nor were the goals celebrated as wildly as they are now.

The happiest club in the world that day was West Ham United, a kind of Argentinos Juniors at that time. He was the only one who had three footballers in the final, and what three…!: Bobby Moore, the great captain, Geoffrey Hurst, author of three goals, and Martin Peters, who scored the fourth. England dominated most of the time and were very fair winners, they had more offensive intentions. Germany won 1-0, the local team turned it around and at the last minute, much like Germany, Wolfgang Weber, center back, fished a rebound in the area and made it 2-2 that sent the game into extra time. No English player regretted too much, we just had to continue for a while longer.

The first English goal was, to say the least, curious. Bobby Moore’s cross came from the left into the Germany box and Geoffrey Hurst, completely alone, with no opposing defender within three or four metres, chose a stick and headed the ball into the net. unusually easy.

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And in the 11th minute of extra time came the controversial goal, Hurst’s famous ghost goal. The West Ham centre-forward saved a ball in the area and with great alacrity finished off high. The ball hit the crossbar and bounced over the line, the English footballers claimed a goal and the Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst went to consult the Soviet line Tofik Bakhramov. This said goal: 3 to 2. The German boys complained, but moderately. Over the years the topic has grown. It was never clarified if he entered or not because there were no specific goal line cameras, like today. The most critical ensure that the ball had entered 85%, but not all. It happened that the ball stung behind Tilkowski’s body and he blocked the vision. And at that time there was no VAR. Honestly, if we had been in Bakhramov’s place we would have conceded the goal too.

In minute 120, with Germany already delivered, Hurst scored to make it 4-2, at that point anecdotal because ipso facto ended the game. The Swiss judge Dienst did a magnificent job, rigorous, he did not make mistakes and he did not allow anyone to waste time or get into friction. Nor was it too necessary, the protagonists showed an exemplary correction.

The individual performances were quite a surprise. The most valuable player, without a doubt, Alan Ball, a sort of Burrito Ortega, unbalanced one on one, committed. Then we located Nobby Stiles, all-fielder, smart, anticipating, he stole lots of balls. He had the key to all of England, he was the owner of that team. Immediately there is Willi Schulz, notable Hamburg defender with an astonishing ball delivery. He never seemed rushed and resolved safely and simply. In fourth place would be Uwe Seeler, a midfielder-forward who dropped a lot and helped create manoeuvres. Fifth, Gordon Banks, a fantastic goalkeeper who conjured up three clear scoring situations. Right away, Bobby Moore, a very clean and efficient central defender; Jackie Charlton, his partner behind, a brave, strong defender with character; Overath, a class 5, Fernando Redondo type, with a neat left foot. And Bobby Charlton…? And Beckenbauer…? They didn’t shine. Franz was inconsequential, not noticeable at all, not even his handling of the ball. He played central midfielder. Charlton came into play more, got involved, however, did not stand out. All the players except Jackie Charlton, The Giraffe, were quite short. Next to all of them, George Best, from the same era, was a soccer god, full of magic, skill and goal. He was, without a doubt, far superior to the 22 who played in that final.

It was a wonderful trip back in time, and yet the duel had its appeal. All the eras of football were beautiful.

last tango…

Jorge Barraza
For the time

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