Fifty-five years of hurt have passed since the glorious summer of 1966, when England lifted the trophy in a major tournament final for the first – and so far only – time.
As Sunday night approaches, when the Three Lions take on Italy in their first ever Euros final, winning a cup – and at Wembley too – is in reach once again.
But a lot has changed in 55 years of the beautiful game – from the pay packets to the players’ WAGs and downtime. SARAH RAINEY charts the differences between the 1966 squad that defeated West Germany 4-2 and today’s England heroes.
From £80 a week to multi-million salaries
Players in the 1966 squad earned around £80 a week – roughly £1,400 in today’s money – which is less than today’s England captain Harry Kane makes in an hour.
For beating the Germans they were given a £22,000 bonus, which the players decided to split equally among the squad, regardless of who had played. The late Nobby Stiles explained that skipper Bobby Moore made the decision, saying: ‘We were all in this together and that’s how it will stay.’
On me head, sun: John Connelly, in shirt, Roger Hunt and Gerry Byrne bask in the sun at their Hendon base during the 1966 World Cup
The team considered themselves lucky. For a start, £80 a week was around five times the average pay at the time. Five years previously, footballers had a maximum wage of £20 a week.
Today’s pay packets are eye-watering in comparison: 13 of our players are paid more than £100,000 per week, with Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane both on £200,000 and Raheem Sterling topping the rankings at an astonishing £300,000 a week. The lowest earner is midfielder Phil Foden, who earns a paltry £30,000 per week.
Into Wembley for only ten shillings
A ticket for the final against West Germany could be bought for as little as ten shillings – that’s 50p or, adjusting for inflation, £8.73. They were sold from a wooden kiosk outside Wembley. If you’re lucky enough to get tickets officially for Sunday’s game, you’ll have to shell out between £252 and £808.
Despite attempts to clamp down on touts, tickets have popped up on unofficial resale sites for as much as £54,000.
Homes at auction vs mega-mansions
They may have been heroes to their fans, but the 1966 squad didn’t lead a life of luxury. Bobby Charlton lived in a modest detached house in Knutsford, Cheshire, with wife Norma and their two daughters. When they were looking for somewhere bigger, Norma went to a property auction with a maximum budget of £43,000. ‘A fortune then,’ she said.
The 25-year-old hat-trick scorer Geoff Hurst went ‘upmarket’ after the cup win with a big house in Chigwell, Essex, for £12,750.
Jimmy Greaves kicks back and enjoys a pipe while Bobby Moore dozes at Hendon during the World Cup
When teammate Bobby Moore splashed out on his own dream house in Chigwell in the Seventies for £100,000, it was considered the height of opulence – with a porch he could drive his car under if it was raining, a sweeping staircase and a private bar.
But this was tame compared to today’s mega-mansions.
Captain Harry Kane, 27, his wife Katie and their three children are currently renting a £17million pad in London for £15,000 a week – complete with man-cave and gym.
Right-back Kyle Walker, 31, has a £3.5million hideaway in Cheshire with a pool, marble hot tub and five-a-side pitch. Gareth Southgate and his family live in a Grade I-listed Tudor pile in North Yorkshire, worth £3.7million.
Celebrate with a pint and a smoke
Southgate’s players can’t afford to celebrate just yet – short of singing Sweet Caroline with the crowds and posting jubilantly on social media. However, after their semi-final win against Portugal, Bobby and Jack Charlton went to the pub with their mum Cissie.
Bobby Charlton enjoys a pint and cigarette with brother Jack and mum Cissie after the Portugal semi-final
They treated themselves to a pint of bitter and, in Bobby’s case, a cheeky cigarette or two.
After the final there was an impromptu victory parade down Edgware Road, followed by a meal at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington. ‘The reception really was quite low-key,’ explained former striker Jimmy Greaves. The following day, Geoff Hurst spent some quality time at home with his wife Judith – mowing the lawn and washing the car.
WAGs had to dine in separate room
There are a few things the 1966 and 2021 teams have in common: both were kept apart from their partners during the tournament. Today’s rules are due to Covid-19 restrictions, but 55 years ago the wives were treated like ‘invisible beings’ said Daphne Cohen, whose husband George, now 81, played right-back in the final.
The only contact they were allowed during the World Cup was an outing to the shops in Golders Green, as well as handwritten letters and the occasional phonecall.
Bobby Moore’s wife Tina (far left) and the rest of the WAGs dine at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington
They had to drive themselves to Wembley on the day of the match. Then, during the celebration dinner, they had to eat in a separate room upstairs. Bobby Moore’s wife Tina, who wore a silk chiffon dress with a mink stole, recalled: ‘There was a touch of Cinderella about it all. We were all dressed up, but we had to wait for hours before we could go to the ball.’ At the end of the meal, the women were presented with a bizarre gift – a pair of scissors in a box!
After Wednesday’s drama the modern-day WAGs piled into the lavish Hilton Hotel next to Wembley stadium, where they celebrated into the early hours. Amie Coady, wife of centre-back Conor, shared pictures and videos on her Instagram story of the evening, as did Kalvin Phillips’ girlfriend Ashleigh Behan.
Earlier in the day, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s fiancee Megan Davison posted videos on Instagram of their bus to the stadium – showing off balloons, flags and St George’s Cross cowboy hats.
Game of cards or oxygen chamber?
The 1966 squad stayed at Hendon Manor in north-west London, a Grade II-listed building dating from the Domesday Book, converted into a hotel in 1911.
The players enjoyed games of cards and sunbathed in their buttoned-up trousers, without a tattoo in sight. Jimmy Greaves even relaxed with a pipe.
All the players were served the same basic dishes: typically meat, veg and potatoes.
The Charltons and Peter Bonetti warm up for their semi final clash against Portugal with a game of cricket
The night before the final, they went to the local cinema to watch the latest blockbuster, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, and strolled back.
Fast-forward 55 years, the squad have been staying at the Hilton St George’s Park in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire – a flash training complex belonging to the FA.
As well as an indoor pool, spa and bar, there is a giant marquee to allow for ‘social eating’, with meals prepared (and catered to individual dietary requirements) by Omar Meziane, former chef to the Spice Girls. Nutritional shakes, vitamin supplements – and even an oxygen chamber to aid recovery – are on offer.
Ice baths, yoga sessions and basketball on a purpose-built indoor court have all formed part of the England players’ downtime.
A 37C inflatable structure, called a ‘hotpod’, has been installed to practise ‘hot yoga’, which involves holding a series of poses inside the high-temperature pod.
Jimmy Greaves relaxes on a swing at England’s Hendon Headquarters during the famous tournament
Relaxing mood music is played, the lights are dimmed and the air is infused with lavender, orange and bergamot scents to help them tune out the stresses of the sport.
They’ve also been letting off steam in the pool, with winger Bukayo Saka, 19, a particular fan of riding the inflatable unicorns. The stars of 1966 got up to no such antics. Indeed, the day before the final, the players travelled to Roehampton, south-west London, for an informal cricket match and a few rounds of pitch-and-putt.
Street signings to a ring of steel
Back in the Sixties, fans were able to approach their heroes in the street and ask for autographs.
They were often spotted out and about in London, and schoolchildren made a habit of waiting outside Hendon Hall with ticket stubs and programmes for them to sign.
So strict are safety measures now that the Uefa-appointed firm G4S was reportedly sacked last month for allowing 50 fans to gather around the team bus the night before England’s opening game.
Sign of the times: Bobby Charlton gives autographs to fans the night before the final
Then: £100 boots, now: £700K deals
Footballers were only starting to become celebrities in 1966 and sponsorship deals were rare.
Jack Charlton pocketed just £100 for wearing a particular brand of football boot in the final.
Harry Kane, who has a net worth of £33million, has contracts with Nike, Hugo Boss and Lucozade, while Harry Maguire has a £700,000-a-year deal with Puma.
But England fans haven’t changed!
Whatever else has changed in 55 years, one aspect is the same – the fanatical support of England fans.
While in 1966 only 15 million homes had a TV set, the World Cup final remains Britain’s most-watched broadcast ever, pulling in 32.3 million viewers. BBC1 and ITV will screen Sunday’s match simultaneously. ITV saw 25.8 million fans tune in on Wednesday.