World Cup 1966: Africa’s boycott, Pele’s injury, England’s trophy

It took 36 years for football’s biggest competition to be hosted by the nation where it was first played.

England's national soccer team captain Bobby Moore holds aloft the Jules Rimet trophy as he is carried by his teammates following England's victory over Germany
The England-West Germany final was played in a packed Wembley Stadium and turned out to be a classic. [Central Press/AFP]

Host: England
Teams: 16
Format: Group stage, knockouts
Matches: 32
Goals: 89
Winner: England
Runners-up: West Germany
Golden boot: Eusebio (Portugal)


It took 36 years for football’s biggest competition to be hosted by the nation where it was first played. When the World Cup returned to Europe after eight years, England was selected to host the tournament for the first time.

Drug testing was introduced. The tournament was spread across seven towns and eight stadiums.

Wembley Stadium in London, with a capacity of nearly 100,000 people, hosted the most matches (nine), including the final and all of England’s games.

African countries boycotted the tournament after their demand for a guaranteed spot in the main draw wasn’t met.

European teams made up more than half of the main draw. They were joined by squads from the Americas and North Korea, which was the only Asian representative.

England opened the tournament with a dull draw against Uruguay, but both teams made it into the knockouts. Other European teams and Argentina also advanced, and North Korea sprang a surprise by qualifying for the quarterfinals after beating Italy.

Portugal seemed strong contenders for the title with their high-scoring results largely helped by striker Eusebio’s nine goals in the tournament. He propelled Portugal into the semis, where they narrowly lost to England.

The England-West Germany final, played in a packed Wembley Stadium, turned out to be a classic.

England were about to record their first world title, but the Germans equalised in the last minute.

Geoff Hurst, who made England’s first goal, scored what has remained one the most controversial goals in a World Cup final. His shot hit the crossbar and bounced on the goal line, and a goal was awarded to England, setting off a decades-long debate.

Hurst completed his hat-trick, the only player to score one in a World Cup final, at the end of extra time and in the middle of a pitch invasion.


This was the first World Cup to be broadcast via satellite. Floodlights were used for the first time.

Eusebio scored nine goals, including a hat-trick, to take his country to the semifinals for the first time.

The World Cup trophy was stolen while on display four months before the tournament. It was recovered by a dog named Pickles after it was dumped in a garden.


African teams boycotted the tournament after they were not guaranteed a place in the main draw.

Two-time winners and defending champions Brazil failed to advance to the quarterfinals after Pele was injured in the group matches.

Italy were also knocked out early after losing two games, including one to North Korea.

Source: Al Jazeera