West Ham’s World Cup Fantasy XI
13:00 07 June 2014
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Our look at Hammers who have helped England
West Ham United won the World Cup for England in 1966 – everybody knows that!
There may have been two Manchester United players and one from Leicester, Fulham, Everton, Leeds United, Blackpool and Liverpool, but the key players, the match-winners, came from the East End, from the Boleyn Ground.
Martin Peters put England 2-1 up against West Germany on that glorious day at Wembley on July 30, and seemed to have shot them to victory only for the Germans to grab a last-minute equaliser to take the game into extra time.
Striker Geoff Hurst hit two more goals to seal a 4-2 win and the Jules Rimet trophy – and his own place in national folklore.
Amid all the excitement was Bobby Moore. West Ham’s skipper, England captain, the epitome of everything that was good and right about football in this country.
He set up Hurst for the equaliser in the first-half and was a colossus in the England defence to keep the West Germans at bay, before delivering the stunning long-distance pass (not long ball) for Hurst to wrap things up with the fourth goal, which saw Kenneth Wolstenholme become the patron saint of commentators, with the immortal words: “Some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over – it is now, it’s four.”
So West Ham won the World Cup 48 years ago, but can we assemble a team of Hammers that could have given the best a run for their money at the greatest football tournament in the world? Of course we can.
There are a few technicalities. Both Harry Hooper in 1954 and Johnny “Budgie” Byrne made the provisional England squad, but were not selected for the finals, while Rio Ferdinand and David James both went to World Cup Finals while with the Hammers, but never played.
We have taken licence and suggested that Andy Carroll should be there and he will take his place up front with Hurst, now Sir Geoff – quite a partnership!
Naturally, West Ham legend Ron Greenwood, who took England to the 1982 World Cup in Spain, would be in charge. One of the most innovative coaches in the world in his day, he was also no stranger to playing a team consisting largely of players from one club. In his first match as England boss in 1977, he fielded seven Liverpool players in his starting XI against Switzerland.
Rob Green is in goal, with a back four of Ferdinand, Alvin Martin, Moore and Matt Upson. In midfield Trevor Sinclair, Trevor Brooking, Peters and Joe Cole, and up front Sir Geoff and Carroll.
If Green can avoid balls going through his legs, if Ferdinand and Upson can slot into the full-back roles, then the rest look capable of creating and scoring the goals to lift that trophy.
That’s two stars on the shirt for the Hammers then!