BBC Home > BBC Sport > World Cup 2010

Defeat by US still hurts, says England old boy Williams

8 June 10 17:07 GMT

Bert Williams was the England keeper the day his country suffered arguably their biggest World Cup shock against the United States in 1950.

And the old Wolves legend hopes that, 60 years on, England's current crop might right that wrong against the US in Rustenburg on Saturday night.

"When I heard the draw it resurrected memories I'd tried to forget," he said.

"It will never go away," said Bilston-born Williams, now 90 and England's oldest surviving World Cup player.

"It hurts because of the stigma that goes with the result. Everybody thought they had no chance to win," he told BBC Radio Shropshire.

"But you've got to give the Americans some credit for what they did.

"As soon as an English player picked up the ball, everyone in the American side retreated into their goal mouth. You couldn't see the goals for legs."

Joe Gaetjens scored the winner that day in June 1950 in the Brazilian backwater of Belo Horizonte.

And 24-times capped Williams, long since enjoying his retirement in the Shropshire market town of Shifnal, hopes history will be kinder to one of England's current goalkeeping contenders, Joe Hart, should he get the nod this weekend.

Three-times capped Hart was born in Shropshire, starting his career with his hometown club before making his name with Manchester City and then last season, perhaps even more so, on loan at Birmingham City.

"We've both followed the same pattern and background," added Williams, who first came to Shropshire during the war when he was based at RAF Cosford. "It must be the air here."

Hart, 23, could yet play in England's opener against the US, having started Monday's final warm-up match against the Platinum Stars.

England won 3-0, prompting speculation Hart may play ahead of veteran David James and West Ham's Robert Green - and he gets Williams' vote.

"I haven't seen a great deal of him," admitted Williams. "I don't go to matches much now but I've seen him on TV.

"He's agile and he's alert. Never mind his age, I would play him.

"If he does get in he won't let England down.

"I would say to him, go out there and think you're as good as any other player on the field."

Share this

Related BBC sites