For England , Now is the Time for new Heroes!

The Queen handing the trophy to Captain Bobby Moore

I visited Wembley stadium the other day. It is a great looking stadium which is adorned with the statues of the heroes of 1966 led by manager Sir Alf Ramsey and captain, the regal Sir Bobby Moore. Every time the English try to remind themselves that they are the home of football, they always go back to 1966. England beat West Germany 4-2 to lift the coveted Jules Rimet trophy otherwise known in football parlance as the World Cup.

But England have realised that they cannot continue to pitch their tents in the past so they need new heroes. Can this class of 2021 write a new chapter in the English football narrative ? Tonight will give us a definitive answer. But while we wait for future with its promises as well as uncertainties let us remind ourselves of the Heroes of England glorious past.

Below are the history making boys of 1966.

  1. Gordon Banks-goalkeeper who was a pivotal member of the team. Ironically he is remembered more for his save in the 1970 World Cup from a Pele header. it is regarded as one of the greatest saves in World Cup History. He died in 2019.
  2. George Cohen- great right back who serves as a timely reminder of how football often forgets its heroes. The legend was forced to sell his 1966 winners medal to his club Fulham . He wanted to raise money to foot mounting medical expenses.
  3. Jack Charlton-top defender whose death from dementia again brought to the fore the dangers that many legends of these bygone era were exposed to with those hard footballs they used to head. There is now a campaign to raise more awareness about this. He died in 2020.
  4. Bobby Moore- forget Terry Butcher, Tony Adams, John Terry, Sol Campbell or Rio Ferdinand, Bobby Moore is regarded by many as the best English centre back of all time. Pele long regarded as the king of football cited him as the best defender he ever played against. He captained the side but unfortunately died at the relatively tender age of 51 in 1993.
  5. Ray Wilson-played as a left back and had an interesting post playing career , he became an undertaker. He died in 2018.
  6. Nobby Stiles- the enforcer, images of the front teeth missing legend dancing on the Wembley pitch are embedded in the English football narrative. He died in 2020 from Alzheimer’s which also raised the debate about the dangers associated the heading of those footballs of old.
  7. Allan Ball-midfielder who was the youngest member of the 1966 team at 21 years. He died in 1961 from heart attack.
  8. Martin Peter-midfielder who scored in the 1966 final. He also died from Alzheimer’s disease.
  9. Geof Hurst-he is the only man to score a hattrick in a world Cup Final. He is still in rude health and he will be watching the match tomorrow to see if these new heroes can write their own story.
  10. Bobby Charlton-Midfielder who is regarded as one one of the greatest players of all time. He remains active at Manchester United and was granted the freedom of the city of Manchester. He is another one who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
  11. Roger Hunt-scored three goals in the tournament and is another who will watch tomorrow’s match closely. These 11 players were awarded with medals because Fifa only recognised those on the pitch on the day of the match. With the passage of time, a campaign was launched to give medals to the other members of the team.

Players such as Jimmy Greaves, Peter Bonetti, Jimmy Armfield, Norman Hunter, Ronald Flowers, Terry Paine and John Collenelly were duly rewarded belatedly. It is also important to note that twelve of the 1966 Heroes are now late. Their legacy will live forever but if this class of 2021 manages to beat Italy tomorrow, then new heroes will enter the English football discourse. The Nation has waited for fifty five years and for a proud football Nation, that is too long. It is indeed time to write a new script. Every Nation needs new Heroes to consolidate the legacy. For England, tonight might be the night.

I wish them the Best!

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