The football World Cup has been a rather heartbreaking journey for England. Time and time again, football tries to come home, but just can’t ever seem to get there. I think we’re all still gutted over that penalty knockout against Argentina in 1998. But despite all the trials and tribulations over the last 50+ years, no one can ever take away the glory of our 1966 victory. 

It’s amazing to think that back then there was a WEST Germany, but our boys triumphed over them in a stunning 4-2 win that still brings a smile to everyone’s faces to this day. So since we haven’t YET brought the trophy home a second time, let’s pay homage to the amazing players that fought their way to the top all those years ago.

No doubt, while placing bets or checking out the latest Bundesliga fixtures, you don’t often wonder about the football legends of old. But having become national heroes for all time, let’s see where these gents are today.

Alas, time makes fools of us all and many of those great heroes passed away in recent years. Gordon Banks (Goalkeeper), Bobby Moore (Defender), Jack Charlton (Defender), Ray Wilson (Defender), Alan Ball (Midfielder), Nobby Stiles (Midfielder), Martin Peters (Midfielder) and Roger Hunt (Striker) have died, but are still loved and remembered. 

Of those that remain, George Cohen was a Defender, Bobby Charlton was a Midfielder and the legendary hat trick Geoff Hurst was a Striker. All three men never lost their love of football, although life took them all in quite different directions. 

Geoff Hurst

He was knighted in 1998 and a year later received an Honorary Doctorate from ARU. After the success of the world cup, the former West Ham player moved to Stoke City in 1972 and also briefly played in the US before retiring in 1976. Between ‘76 and ‘84, Hurst managed Telford United, Chelsea and Kuwait SC. After that, Geoff left football and pursued a career in finance. Most recently he released a new book Eighty at Eighty, chronicling the 80 sporting heroes that most inspired him, coinciding with his 80th birthday. 

Bobby Charlton

He not only won the world cup in ‘66, but also the Ballon d’Or. He is also now the last survivor of the infamous Munich air disaster, which was carrying the Manchester United Football team and resulted in 23 fatalities. Bobby Charlton was captain of Man U in 1968 and retired from the England team in 1970. With 249 goals, his amazing record at Manchester United was only beaten by Wayne Rooney in 2017. He managed Preston North End and Wigan Athletic before joining the Manchester United board of directors in 1984. Charlton does a lot of charity work and was not only knighted but inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame. 

George Cohen

He sadly retired from football after an injury just three years after the success of the World Cup, having only played with Fulham his entire career, although he did some coaching for England and non-league for some years after. He received an MBE in 2000 and a statue of his was erected at Craven Cottage. Cohen does a great deal of charitable work and fundraising for dementia illnesses, as these diseases have affected a huge number of his teammates. Ray Wilson, Nobby Stiles and Martin Peters all passed away from Alzheimer’s. Jack Charlton died of lymphoma but also suffered from dementia at the end of his life, and Bobby Charlton has also recently been diagnosed with dementia. 

Despite the ups and downs, trials and tribulations in their lives, there is no question that no matter how far England takes football in the future, these iconic players will remain cemented in the history books as some of the greatest footballers in the sport, who will never cease making their country proud. 

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