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Friday, 16 June, 2000, 21:05 GMT 22:05 UK
England great gets just reward

1966 squad: Armfield is standing, seventh from left
England great Jimmy Armfield has finally been recognised for a lifetime's commitment to football with an OBE in the birthday honours list.

Armfield has excelled in three areas of the game, captaining his country on the field, managing Leeds to a European Cup final and becoming acknowledged as the best football summariser on the radio.

It is nice to be recognised for what has really been a life's work

Jimmy Armfield

But in a cruel blow for a man of his talents, he was denied his place in the World Cup winning side of 1966 by untimely injury, although he did make it into the squad.

Armfield, now 65, said the honour was "very rewarding at this time of my life".

"I have been very fortunate to be in a profession that I have loved and that I am still having a love affair with," he said.

"Even after all these years I still get excited going to all the games, and that really sums it up."

In a playing career spanning more than 20 years, Armfield represented just two sides - Blackpool and England.

He made his greatest impact on the international stage during the 1962 World Cup in Chile, when he was acclaimed as the best right-back in the world.

The England star played in both pre-1966 World Cup friendlies against Finland and Yugoslavia, only to be sidelined by injury for the tournament itself. George Cohen took his place in the victorious side.

Armfield was never to play for England again, but at his peak he made 37 consecutive appearances for his country - 15 as captain.

His career really began aged 16, when he turned his back on as place in the Lancashire schools rugby union side to sign as an amateur for Blackpool.

He went on to make 568 appearances for the club, becoming a professional in 1954.

Five years later he was capped by England when they lost 2-0 to Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.

His last appearance for the Bloomfield Road outfit came in 1971, and was shortly followed by a successful transition to management at Bolton.

They had just been relegated to Division Three for the first time in their history. Armfield had them promoted again within two years, before being tempted to manage Leeds in 1974.

Stepping in Don Levie's shoes proved to be no problem at all as went one better than his predecessor by leading the Elland Road side to a European Cup final.

By 1978, Armfield realised his calling lay elsewhere and he quit management to pursue an already budding career in journalism with the BBC.

Such is his all-encompassing knowledge of the game that the Football Association appointed him their technical consultant for Euro 96.

"I've been in football for 46 years as a player, coach, manager, broadcaster and a technical consultant at the FA, so it is nice to be recognised for what has really been a life's work," he said.

"I have accepted that I can't run any more and consequently I enjoy life as I go along. Football still gives me a lot of pleasure."

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