World Cup Legends – Part Two

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World Cup Legends

Some of the game’s greatest players have graced the World Cup through the years and rightfully are a part of its illustrious history. Football Espana runs through the tournament’s hall of fame.

Bobby Moore – England 1962, 1966, 1970

As skipper of Sir Alf Ramsey’s 1966 heroes, Bobby Moore wrote himself forever into the history books. Ever the gentleman, he took the trouble to wipe mud from his palms before taking the golden trophy from Queen Elizabeth.

Classy, that sums up Moore. And he was always that, right from making his debut as a 17-year-old with his beloved West Ham. He won his first England cap just weeks before the 1962 World Cup and impressed enough to gain a place in the squad that travelled to Chile, playing in every match as England reached the quarter-finals. He made the No 6 jersey his for the next decade and more.

His brilliant tackling, positioning and ability to read the game compensated for his lack of pace. Rivals like Franz Beckenbauer, Pele and Johan Cruyff rated him as the best defender ever. He was also respected as a gentleman on and off the field. A true leader, he won the England captaincy at an early age and kept it for 90 of his 108 matches, equalling Billy Wright’s record.

Bobby’s contribution to the 1966 victory was immense. England didn’t concede a goal until the semi-final when Eusebio scored with a penalty. His quick free-kick, then a long pass out to hat-trick hero and Hammers’ teammate Geoff Hurst led directly to goals which won a dramatic Final against West Germany. In the mid-60s Moore also had other successes. Not only was he voted England’s Player of the Year in 1964, he also helped West Ham win the FA Cup and the European Cup-Winners Cup. The League championship was the one trophy he never won.

Moore took England to the quarter-finals in the 1970 World Cup and played his last international in 1973, a 1-0 defeat to Italy at Wembley. He retired in 1976 having played his last three seasons with Fulham whom he took the to 1975 Cup Final. Despite trying at Southend and Oxford, he was cruelly never given the chance to manage at the top level. Ignored by the FA for an ambassadorial role, he was struck by cancer in 1991 and died two years later at the age of only 51.

Franz Beckenbauer – West Germany 1966, 1970, 1974

An outstanding captain, a great tactician and a revolutionary attacking sweeper, the elegant Beckenbauer had everything. He was in Bayern Munich’s first team at 17, won his first full cap after only 27 senior games and was West Germany’s Player of the Year in 1966, the year he scored four times in Germany’s run to the World Cup Final.

Der Kaiser was European Footballer of the Year in 1971 and 1976, he captained the 1972 European champions and in 1974 at last gained a World Cup victory after the 2-1 victory over Holland. He retired from international soccer in 1977 after winning 103 caps, a record at that time, and inspiring Bayern Munich to many successes in domestic and European football, among them three European Cups in a row.

He teamed up with Pele at New York Cosmos and added two NASL championships to his collection before helping SV Hamburg to the Bundesliga title in 1982. Appointed national Coach in 1984, he steered West Germany to the Final in both the 1986 and 1990 World Cups. At Italia ’90 he became only the second man after Mario Zagalo of Brazil to achieve success as both a player and manager, but the first as captain and Coach.

Geoff Hurst – England 1966, 1970

Geoff Hurst wasn’t even ranked among England’s main strikers in 1966, as Alf Ramsey had picked him as cover for Jimmy Greaves and Roger Hunt. When Greaves, perhaps England’s greatest goal king, injured a shin the West Ham man took over, scored the winner against Argentina in the quarter-final and could not be displaced. There was a fairy-tale ending as he became the only man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup Final.

Born in Ashton-Under-Lyne, Lancashire in 1941, Hurst was talented enough to have become a county cricketer. Instead turned to professional football with the Londoners. Between 1959 and 1972 he made over 400 League appearances and scored 180 goals, helping the Hammers win the FA Cup in 1964 and the European Cup-Winners Cup the following year. Both matches were at Wembley and Hurst made it a remarkable hat-trick in 1966 when England lifted the Jules Rimet trophy by beating West Germany 4-2 after extra time.

Hurst, who had made his international debut only five months before, also appeared in the 1970 World Cup. He won 49 caps and scored 24 goals for England. In 1972 he moved to Stoke City before finishing his career at West Brom. He managed Chelsea and Telford Utd and assisted Ron Greenwood with the national squad.

Johan Cruyff – Netherlands 1974

A brilliant if tempestuous star, Johan Cruyff was one of the finest players never to win the ultimate prize. His goals helped Holland into the 1974 World Cup Final, only to finish with a loser's medal. His 48 internationals brought 33 goals and would have been more but for disputes with the Dutch FA and his refusal to play in the 1978 World Cup. 

Born in Amsterdam in 1947, he was the Dutch League’s top scorer at 19 in only his first season with Ajax. A brilliant creator as well as finisher, he won many domestic honours, a hat-trick of European Cup medals and was European Footballer of the Year three times. In 1973, Cruyff joined his old Ajax boss Rinus Michels and helped Barcelona complete the Spanish double of League and Cup.

Having spent three years in the NASL, with Los Angeles Aztecs and Washington Diplomats, he returned to Holland first with Ajax and then Feyenoord. Later as manager he took Ajax to a 1987 European Cup-Winners Cup. In 1988 he re-joined Barcelona and led them to four Spanish League titles and a European Cup triumph before heart trouble forced him on to the sidelines.

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