The FIFA World Cup was in one of the safest pairs of hands in the country when it visited Wembley Stadium on Tuesday morning.
England’s 1966 World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks was amongst a trio of Three Lions legends invited along to a Club Wembley breakfast where the magnificent trophy was unveiled at the National Stadium.
As winners of the World Cup, Banks, Sir Geoff Hurst and Jimmy Greaves are among an elite group of people who are allowed to actually touch the 18 carat-gold trophy and the ex-England stopper says being in such an exclusive club fills him with immense pride.
“It’s a lovely cup”, said Banks, “When you think of the millions who just get to see it on the tele and you’re allowed to hold it because you’ve won it you feel very proud.
“To have played for your country and to have won it for your country is great.”
The trophy was in London as part of the FIFA World Cup Tour with Coca Cola which sees it visit 88 different countries during a 267-day tour.
It was fitting that Banks got his hands on the World Cup at the venue where he celebrated winning the Jules Rimet trophy almost 48 years ago, although he admits the stadium looks a little different these days.
“They’ve improved it well and it’s really a magnificent looking stadium”, said Banks, “Bringing the crowd closer to the pitch gives the place a great atmosphere.”
As he looked out over the impressive Wembley pitch Banks told us how the memories came flooding back of both that incredible day in 1966, but also his many other appearances at the stadium.
Yet he did confess that, as much as he loved playing at Wembley, the build-up to a game was a less enjoyable experience for him.
“Every time we played here the nerves were enormous”, Banks reminisced, “from the moment you got on the coach to come to the ground to walking up the tunnel, hearing the roar and then singing the national anthem.
“You wanted to get on with the game because when that whistle blew all that tension just went. Then you just had to concentrate on what you were doing and you knew that.”
Banks was part of an England team that went all the way and lifted the World Cup at Wembley on 30 July 1966, after beating West Germany 4-2 in the Final.
And the former Three Lions number one says, with Roy Hodgson’s team heading to Brazil for this summer’s Finals in June, the lesson to learn is that tournaments can be unpredictable.
“You can never tell with a tournament that large, nobody knows who is going to do what,” he told wembleystadium.com. “Providing the England players get used to the temperature and pitches and as long as we feel confident in ourselves and play well as a team we’ve always got a chance.”
To see what Gordon and Jimmy Greaves had to say about Sir Alf Ramsey click here