Stories

How to win the World Cup, by the men who've done it

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Gordon Banks 

(England’s ’66-winning keeper.)

Be good mates
“The main reason we were such a good team was because of the camaraderie between the players. There was no jealousy, no big egos, we just all got along really well and we took that spirit onto the pitch.”

Be in good form – but don’t be cocky
“I’m not a great one for stats but if you were to look at our results in the run-up to the World Cup it was a really special. We were going to places like Poland, Spain and Czechoslovakia – who had reached the final in 1962 – and beating them at their places. We were battle-hardened, experienced and upbeat. That was the perfect preparation. We were confident before the World Cup, but we didn’t enter the competition saying we were going to win it. No one can do that because it’s such a tough competition. Alf Ramsey said that we’d win but I didn’t think he was being that serious. He was trying to give us a lift.”

Respect the gaffer
“Alf Ramsey was very strict. Whatever he said, you had to do, whether it was on or off the pitch. If a player didn’t do what was asked of them, he’d leave them out. For that reason, the players listened to every word and took in what he said.”

Concentrate!
“For some international matches I spent long periods of time not doing anything. It could have been easy to switch off and lose concentration but the key to being a good international keeper is making sure you stay focused for 90 minutes. I had to make sure that when an opposition player popped up out of the blue I could react. Being a goalkeeper at a World Cup is a special kind of pressure because any mistake you make is played on TV around the world. If you make a mistake, put it to the back of your mind. If you let it fester it’ll affect your performance.”