Player at the World Cup 1966 Final!!
England Caps: 63
Player: 1960 - 1968
Ray Wilson the unassuming and cultured left back, who won the World Cup with England and amassed a total of 63 caps, had an unusual start for a footballer. Although spotted by a scout from Huddersfield Town as a youngster, he was an apprentice railway man before, after doing his two years National Service, he eventually signed professional papers.
First Choice from Division TwoAlthough Huddersfield were then in the top division, it wasn’t long before they were in Division Two, but Wilson notched 30 caps despite this, before Everton snapped him up, despite former Huddersfield manager Bill Shankly trying to buy him for Liverpool.
Ramsey Sticks by WilsonWilson’s debut came in a 1-1 draw with Scotland and over the next year he established himself in the side, which at the time was selected by an FA committee and coached by Sir Walter Winterbottom. Many players were concerned about their team places when Sir Alf Ramsey took over in 1963, as he had forced the FA to accept his utter and complete control over team selection. Wilson was not one who needed to worry.
Not only did he have strength and speed, but also good distribution and excellent positional awareness, which was essential to operate Ramsey’s tricky but effective zonal marking system. Bobby Moore appreciated Wilson’s unflappable nature, saying that it was a comfort to play alongside him, and he was regarded by many as the best left back in the world.
World Cup WinnerThe World Cup saw Wilson still far and away first choice for left back at the age of 31, and he enhanced his reputation further as he fitted so well with Ramsey’s chosen tactics. “What you had to do for Alf was graft and work hard” he said, as the team sat back and hit hard on the break, putting extra pressure on the defense.
It’s a measure of his success that one rare error sticks out in the memory, when his weak headed clearance fell to West German striker Helmut Haller, whose low shot opened the scoring in the final. But characteristically Wilson carried on putting in a near-faultless display as England ran out 4-2 winners.