6 Days To Go - World Cup 2018

Six is the magic number

I know that's not how the song goes, but let your old pal Joolsy have this one. 

Six was the shirt number worn by the England captain Bobby Moore when his country triumphed for the one and only time in a World Cup in Nineteen Sixty-Six. Also there's now only six days to go until the pesky Russians kick-off the 2018 World Cup against those dastardly Saudis. Phwoar!

Indeed, following on from yesterday's tale of Pickles the 🐶 back in 1966, we're at the same tournament for today's countdown which take a brief look back at England captain Bobby Moore who wore the now iconic #6 jersey along the way to captaining England to World Cup glory. 

East-end hero Robert Frederick Chelsea Moore - commonly known as just 'Bobby' - is a West Ham United legend, and it's fair to say he's regarded as one of England best ever players. He also played a few seasons for Fulham and made a clutch of appearances for a host of North American clubs during the twilight of his career. 

Known for his poise and elegance as a centre-back, Moore won 108 England caps and will always be remembered above all for being the England captain to lift the trophy the bears a rather similar name to your old pal Joolsy here. Moore was also a runner-up to Germany's Gerd Muller in the 1970 Ballon d'Or award.

England's 1966 manager Sir Alf Ramsey once said of Moore: 

"My captain, my leader, my right-hand man. He was the spirit and the heartbeat of the team. A cool, calculating footballer I could trust with my life. He was the supreme professional, the best I ever worked with. Without him England would never have won the World Cup."
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7 Days To Go - World Cup 2018

We’re on the home straight now folks - it's officially one week to go!

I'll pick up where I left off yesterday and England's 100% success rate in World Cup finals. 

Deep-rooted into English sporting history until the end of time will be the much celebrated image of captain Bobby Moore, lofted in the air by his team mates, proudly lifting the famous old Jules Rimet trophy.

It's a sight to behold for any England football supporter

Almost unbelievably, this was almost not meant to be, what with Germany levelling in the last minute of normal time in the final, the legitimacy of Geoff Hurst’s match defining second goal and the showpiece trophy going missing before the tournament had started!! 

Yes you read right, the trophy went missing for a whole seven days in the build-up to ’66, leaving the FA with the sheer embarrassment of hosting the greatest show on earth without the trophy everybody was playing for. 

How on earth did this happen, I hear you ask with a furrowed brow!

Well, four months before the tournament was to start, the FA agreed to a request for the trophy to be shown off at a Stamp exhibition in Westminster, close to the Houses of Parliament. 

No problems there then, security would be of the highest order thought FIFA President Stanley Rous, who still laid out certain stipulations for the police and FA to follow by way of procedure. The trophy had to be transported by a well-respected security company, locked in a glass case and guarded for 24 hours a day.

Not much to ask for. Or, so you would think! Those in charge, most notably the Metropolitan Police, failed in doing what they were paid to.

Needless to say, the trophy went walkies!

A couple of hoaxes and a ransom note that led to an arrest but not a lot else left the Met Police, the FA and, well, the whole of England in hysteria at the prospect of becoming a laughing stock, though, by all accounts, they had become so already.

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Source: National Football Museum

Thank goodness for one man and his dog

Seven days into the nationwide hunt for the trophy, South Norwood resident Dave Corbett was alerted to a package bound in newspaper by his Collie canine, Pickles, when out walking around his home of South Norwood.

Unsure first of all of what he’d come across, Corbett was tentative at picking something up around the time the IRA were particularly prevalent.

However, on he pressed and off he marched to the police station, only to be greeted with an air of scepticism and then suspected as the culprit behind the crime.

It came to light though that Corbett was innocent of any wrongdoing and had actually saved the police and the FA from any more ridicule.

Corbett’s life and, in particular, that of his dog, detective Pickles, were to never be the same again, they were to be lauded all over the place! 

Both he and his owner became house hold names for their part in the recovery of Jules Rimet, receiving cash rewards and appearing on TV and at a host of grand openings. 

Pickles was given an extra’s role in a film, ‘the Spy with a Cold Nose’ and even attended the World Cup banquet to honour the victorious England team responsible for creating history.

Screen Shot 2018 06 07 At 12 47 22

Bobby Charlton meets the four legged national hero. Source: National Football Museum

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8 Days To Go - World Cup 2018

Only 8 days to go and we’re back with the Germans again. The German national team is a superpower of international football and they’ve appeared in the World Cup Final an incredible eight times, winning four and losing four. To honour our German friends let’s take a closer look at the ones they won!

Just a bunch of amateurs

It wasn’t always so clear cut that the Germans would become the powerhouse we know them as today. For the first World Cups between 1930 and 1950 they only managed to register one third place win in 1934, and were banned from entering in 1950 due to Fifa’s post-war sanctions. 

Players who wanted to play football at the highest level had to prove they had a day job

Amateurism and regionalism was the name of the game for German football for much of the 20th century. Germany didn’t even have a national league until 1963 when the Bundesliga was first created. Instead regional championships were played and the winners of each region would enter into a knockout tournament at the end of the season.

The formation of the Bundesliga in 1963 finally brought professionalism to German football. Up until then professionalism was frowned upon, and players who wanted to play football at the highest level in Germany for the big teams such as Bayern Munich, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund even had to prove they had a day job to be eligible.

Germany's Winning Finals
  1. Switzerland 1954
  2. West Germany 1974
  3. Italy 1990
  4. Brazil 2014

Against all odds

Incredibly, under such conditions West Germany managed to win their first World Cup in 1954 and still remain the first non-professional team to do so. Their manager at the time Sepp Herberger was a big advocate for turning German football professional but his team’s success actually hindered his campaign after the World Cup. It was argued that if the team could triumph already then there was no need to change anything.

One of the most tense World Cup finals of all time

The West Germany team were by no means favourites and managed to overcome a Hungary team that many considered to be the world’s greatest at the time. The Germans came from behind to beat the Mighty Magyars 3-2 in one of the most tense World Cup finals of all time.

On home turf

Fast forward twenty years later when Franz Beckenbauer’s marauding West German side once again overcame the odds to beat a Netherlands team that people still say should’ve won the World Cup that year. With the likes of captain Johan Cruyff in their side, displaying the perfect ‘total football’ philosophy, the fans’ favourites were without a doubt the Oranje - but alas, it wasn’t to be.

The Germans just managed to edge it

Captains Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff were at the heads of two of the greatest European teams of their age in Bayern Munich and Ajax. Both teams dominated in Europe, winning the European Cup every year between 1971 and 1976. In many ways then it was the perfect final, but the Germans just managed to edge it 2-1 in the end in front of a home crowd at the Olympiastadion in Munich.

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Johan Cruyff cuts into the West Germany defence in the 1974 final. Source: Bundesarchiv

Silencing Maradona

Italia '90 will always be remembered for that incredible intro song and Gazza’s tears, but it was the Germans who would be singing all the way back over the Alps. Once again not many thought Germany would be the ones to lift it, many pointing to the flair of the Italian hosts, or the genius of Maradona.

The final itself will go down in history as a shocker

In fact the defending champions Argentina were downright awful throughout the tournament. And despite making it to the final it took them two penalty shootouts to seal it in the end. The final itself will go down in history as a shocker and remains the only World Cup final in history to have a man sent off.

The Argentinians showed themselves up with a lack of sportsmanship and a bad attitude, and for once the Germans had many peoples’ sympathy. Aside from that many will want to forget the final itself, and Germany just edged it by converting a penalty on 85 minutes. It was the last time West Germany would appear at a World Cup tournament with reunification on the way. What a way to usher in a new era!

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West Germany star Jürgen Klinsmann was no stranger to football on Italian soil. Source: Wiki Commons

Samba Spoilers

For once Germany were actually considered favourites. How could they not be? For the Brazilians the semi-final was a day that will go down in infamy after the Germans delivered them a 7-1 drubbing on home soil.

Germany cruised to the final in 2014 and once again met  Argentina for a repeat of the 1986 and 1990 final. Once again Die Mannschaft were against an Argentinian who was at the height of his powers, from Maradona to Messi. We all held our breath and for those who are old enough to remember they certainly didn’t want a repeat of the final in ‘90. For the English it was an impossible choice - Argentina or Germany.

Maracana 2014 E

The world famous Maracana hosted the 2014 Final. Source: Daniel Basil

It was a cagey, tense and enthralling final, and it took extra time to sort it out. Mario Götze being the difference. Super sub, super Mario scored a deafening volley, controlled superbly on his chest to silence the Argentinians. That was it. Done. The Germans kept their composure to win their first title as a unified nation and became the first European team to win on South American soil.

Germany's Losing Finals
  1. England 1966
  2. Spain 1982
  3. Mexico 1986
  4. Korea-Japan 2002

So there we have it! We’ve wanted to celebrate Germany’s victories and not dwell on their defeats. Making it to eight finals is an incredible feat and a 50% win rate is not too shabby either. Well, not if you're English - they have the honour of having a distinguished 100% success rate in World Cup finals.

See you tomorrow for number 7! All the best, Jools.

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9 Days To Go - World Cup 2018

We’re into SINGLE FIGURES now guys! How did that come to be? 

9 sleeps until the big kick-off – ahhh, it’s music to one’s ears. 

Speaking of which, did you know, there have been nine official World Cup songs made in support of the England National side pre-tournament.

You’d think the birthplace of The Beatles, Oasis, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Queen et al, some of the finest talent to derive from such shores, would be a cert to muster up something of good taste.

Well, I'll let you be the judge of that, I’m off to dig out my earmuffs.

From Gary Barlow and the Spice Girls, to Dizzee Rascal and Ant & Dec, here they are in all their 'glory'...

Mexico 1970 – “Back Home”

Performed by – England Squad

Chart – no. 1

England at WC - Quarter finals

Spain 1982 – “This time, (we’ll get it right)”

Performed by – England squad

Chart – no. 2

England at WC – Second Group Stage

Mexico 1986 – “We’ve got the whole world at our feet”

Performed by – England squad

Chart – no. 66

England at WC - Quarter finals

Italia 1990 – “World in Motion”

Performed by – England squad and New Order

Chart – no. 1

England at WC - Semi finals

France 1998 – “(How does it feel to be) on top of the world?”

Performed by – England United (Echo and the Bunnymen, Spice Girls, Simon Fowler)

Chart – no. 9

England at WC – Round of 16

Japan/South Korea 2002 – “We’re on the Ball”

Performed by – Ant & Dec

Chart – no. 3

England at WC – Quarter finals

Germany 2006 – “World at Your Feet”

Performed by – Embrace

Chart – no. 3

England at WC – Quarter finals

South Africa 2010 – “Shout (Shout for England song)”

Performed by – Dizzee Rascal (ft. James Corden)

Chart – no. 1

England at WC – Round of 16

* officially unofficial but endorsed by the FA bigwigs

Brazil 2014 – “(Sport Relief’s) Greatest Day”

Performed by – Gary Barlow, Eliza Doolittle, Katy B, Mel C, Emma Bunton, Gary Lineker, Michael Owen, Glenn Hoddle, Sir Geoff Hurst

Chart - presented as the official song but never commissioned by the FA, hence no chart number.

England at WC - Group Stage

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10 Days To Go - World Cup 2018

It gives me great pleasure to serve you with the final double-digit countdown entry of this year's World Cup 2018 Countdown. It really is only ten days to go now!

Goalkeeper performances in big games have been the subject of some debate in recent days in the wake of a certain goalies' horror show over in Kiev. By contrast, the two keepers who hold the record that make today's countdown number were known as being a little more assured and dependable between the posts. 

The record in question is the goalkeeper with the most career clean sheets at World Cup finals tournament. Two men who each played in three World Cups share this record:

  • Peter Shilton, England (1982, 1986, 1990)
  • Fabien Barthez, France (1998, 2002, 2006)

In their World Cup games they both recorded an impressive 10 clean sheets across three separate tournaments. 

Handofgod

Not a Peter Shilton clean sheet

Both Shilton and Barthez are remembered as top quality keepers in their own ways, however the World Cup legacies of the two men are quite different. 

Where Barthez goes down in World Cup folklore as a winner at France 98 at the helm of a French defence featuring Laurent Blanc and Didier Deschamps, Shilton is best remembered as the keeper who let in the infamous 'Hand of God' goal from Diego Maradona in the quarter-finals of Mexico 86. 

Not only that but he was between the sticks when England lost a penalty shoot-out to the Germans four years later at Italia 90. Oh dear. 

This year, a certain Herr Manuel Neuer has amassed four clean sheets from the 2014 tournament and with his comeback from injury who knows how many he'll get in 2018. 

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