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Friday, 31 December, 1999, 00:09 GMT
Unsung heroes of '66 honoured

The England 1966 World Cup-winning team England 1966: Stiles, Hunt, Cohen and Wilson back row, Ball front row, 2nd right


The five "forgotten" players in England's 1966 World Cup-winning team have at last been given official recognition for their sporting heorics.

Nobby Stiles, Alan Ball, Roger Hunt, Ray Wilson and George Cohen have all received MBEs in the New Year's Honours.

It is the first time these five members of England's most successful football team have been formally awarded official honours.


Ian Wright Ian Wright is Arsenal's record goalscorer
Their six team-mates - Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore, Jack Charlton, Gordon Banks and Martin Peters - as well as team manager Sir Alf Ramsey had all previously been honoured for their efforts at Wembley on July 30 1966.

The announcement of the five MBEs follows a certain amount of clamour from within the sport for all 11 players to be rewarded for winning the World Cup for the only time in England's history.

Among the other footballers to be recognised in the New Year's Honours were Celtic's former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright, who was given an MBE.

"To be honoured like this is just beyond my wildest dreams," said Wright, who is also a successful TV chatshow host. "It proves that people in this country can rise up."

And there were also MBEs for Middlesbrough assistant manager Viv Anderson, the first black player to be capped by England, and Wolves' long-serving former England striker Steve Bull.

Midfield hard man

There will be some surprise among football supporters that famous players like Stiles and Ball had not already been honoured.


Nobby Stiles Nobby Stiles: England folk hero
Nobby Stiles, in particular, was one of the most colourful characters in the game in the 1960s and remains a fixture on the after-dinner circuit.

With his gap-toothed grin, thinning hair and the thick glasses he wore off the pitch, he hardly looked like the archetypal athlete.

But on the field for Manchester United and England he was renowned as one of the hardest players around, a tenacious midfielder presence in the 1966 team.

And the sight of Stiles skipping around the Wembley turf with the Jules Rimet trophy is one of the most enduring images from that World Cup final.

George Cohen and Ray Wilson are arguably the least well known of the '66 side, but both played vital roles as overlapping full-backs, as Ramsey adopted a revolutionary 'Wingless Wonders' formation.


Ray Wilson Ray Wilson was renowned for his cover tackling
Cohen, who played a total of 409 games for Fulham and was capped 37 times by England, is now a property developer in in Tunbridge Wells.

Wilson, a neat Everton defender and at 31 the oldest member of the '66 team, shunned the limelight both as a player and later as an undertaker in Huddersfield.

Roger Hunt, who partnered hat-trick hero Hurst up front, remains Liverpool's record scorer with 245 goals in 10 seasons. These days he runs his family haulage business.

Alan Ball, the baby of the team at just 21, followed an illustrious playing career at Blackpool, Everton and Arsenal with a move into management, but was recently sacked from his second spell as Portsmouth boss.

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See also:
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Links to other Football stories are at the foot of the page.