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Last Updated: Friday, 28 July 2006, 06:19 GMT 07:19 UK
Pride of three lions
By Julian Shea

Martin Peters
Peters broke into the England team just before the tournament

Many things may have changed between 1966 and 2006, but when it comes to the World Cup, one thing remains the same: England expects.

On 30 July 1966, that expectation was realised when England beat West Germany 4-2 to be crowned world champions. Forty years on, no England side has repeated the feat.

Martin Peters - scorer of England's second goal at Wembley - told BBC Sport of his memories of that memorable day in July and all that went with it, marking the 40th anniversary of the achievement.

Peters, whose autobiography 'The Ghost of 66' has recently been published, had just two caps before the tournament began, but soon became a first-team regular, alongside West Ham colleagues Geoff Hurst and Bobby Moore.

The night before the final, manager Sir Alf Ramsey took his players to a local cinema to see "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines".

"The whole squad walked through the middle of Hendon but no-one bothered us," said Peters.

"It was only when we were queuing for tickets that Sir Alf told Geoff and I that we would be in the team for the final.

"Afterwards, we went back, had a cup of tea and Sir Alf said 'goodnight gentlemen', and everyone knew that meant it was time to go to bed."

West Ham and England trio Martin Peters, Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst
Peters, Moore and Hurst with the trophy before the 1966 World Cup

Little did the players know it then, but that night would be the last time they would be able to go to the cinema without public attention.

The next day would change their lives forever.

On match day morning, room-mates Hurst and Peters were remarkably relaxed.

"I was only 22, and Geoff was 23 or 24 - maybe being the new kids on the block helped in that sense, but there was a real mix of attitudes in the squad," he said.

"Alan Ball was always chirping, whereas Bobby Charlton was pretty quiet and Jack would talk to anyone any time - but what we did have in common was dedication to winning.

"The dressing room was chaos. All 22 squad members and support staff were there, and things only calmed down when Bobby Moore shouted out 'Come on, this is the World Cup final - let's get down to it'."

Sir Alf just had time for a brief pep talk before the players were summoned to the tunnel.

"We stood there for what seemed like an age before the Germans came out of their dressing room," he said.

"You could hear the noise of their studs on the concrete tunnel long before you could see them.

"It was when we were standing there next to them waiting to go out that I realised it would either be their day or ours - so we had to make sure it was ours."

Peters in action in the final
Germany (white shirts) pushed England all the way in the final

When Helmut Haller put Germany 1-0 up, it was the first time England had been behind in the tournament.

But a header by Hurst soon cancelled that out, and the scoreline stayed at 1-1 until 12 minutes from time.

"Geoff had a shot blocked by Hottges, and it fell to me about eight yards out," said Peters.

"I thought, 'whatever you do, just hit the target, don't hit it over'.

"I connected with it well, the goalkeeper Tilkowski went one way, the defender Schnellinger went the other and my shot went straight down the middle and into the net.

When the ball bounced down, I honestly thought it was over the line

"The feeling was amazing, it was as if I had been struck by lightning, but I never had any selfish thoughts about how it might be my goal that won the World Cup.

"I was thinking about winning it for the team, for the forgotten heroes like Jimmy Armfield and Ron Springett, who were in the squad but not playing."

But as every football fan knows, Peters' goal did not win the World Cup.

A last-gasp German equaliser took the game to extra time, and two goals by Hurst ensured it was England's name that went on the trophy.

And one of those goals - the one against the underside of the bar - is still a subject of debate today.

"I was standing near the penalty spot and when it bounced down, I honestly thought it was over the line," he says.

"Roger Hunt was even closer and he turned away in celebration too, but looking at high-definition pictures now, it looks like it wasn't over.

"But goals and penalties are given and not given, you have to take that as part of the game.

Bobby Moore kisses the World Cup
Mission accomplished: Peters watches Moore kiss the World Cup

"We had a reunion with the Germans recently, and they were great about it. There's no animosity, and Franz Beckenbauer says it didn't matter, England were the better side."

In the final minute, Hurst's third and England's fourth goal put the result beyond doubt and sealed a bond between the boys of '66 that lasts to this day.

"We'd been living in each other's pockets for seven weeks, so we were incredibly close," he said.

"A few years later Alan Ball got sent off because he was so wound up at seeing someone kick me. If one of us is hurt, we were all hurt, that's how it was.

"Even now, nothing can come between us."

The impact of what happened on that day was huge, and is still felt 40 years on.

"It meant so much to people at the time, because it was only 21 years after the war, and it was against the Germans," he says.

"Probably half the people who were alive then are dead now, but it's still so important now. In the past 10 years, I've noticed how much more interested people are - maybe it gets stronger as England go longer without winning anything."

Fans may sing of 40 years of hurt, but Martin Peters and the other 1966 heroes can look back on 40 years of glory, having done something no England football team has done before or since.

1966: What do you remember?
24 May 06 |  World Cup 2006
Swinging along route to '66
07 Jun 06 |  England
World Cup 1966 flashback
06 Jun 06 |  World Cup 2006


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