Not even Queen Elizabeth II could contain her joy on 30 July 1966 when England finally captured the FIFA World Cup. As wild celebrations erupted inside Wembley Stadium and scores poured onto the streets all over the UK, it seemed there was just one man able to remain calm. Alf Ramsey, who had masterminded the nation's greatest-ever sporting triumph, raised a warm smile but, remarkably, kept his composure as well as his seat on the bench.
Sir Alfred Ernest "Alf" Ramsey was an English footballer and manager of the English national football team from 1963 to 1974. They also came third in the 1968 European Championship and reached the quarter-final stage of the 1970 World Cup and the 1972 European Championship under his management.
Ramsey was born in Dagenham, England. Having been a gifted amateur as a pupil and as a player for his army regiment, he played for Portsmouth in the London War League in 1942 before moving to Southampton from 1943 to 1949 (since 1944 as a professional), and Tottenham Hotspur after that. In 1948 he made his England debut against Switzerland; he went on to captain his country three times. As a player Ramsey was considered slow but had excellent positional sense, read the game better than most, had awareness, strength, and excellent distribution for a defender. He was also a specialist penalty kick taker. His coolness and ability to anticipate the goalkeeper earning him the nickname, The General.
He retired from playing in 1955 to become manager of Ipswich Town. After three seasons of mid-table finishes, the fourth brought further success as Ramsey guided the Blues to the Second Division title and into the top flight for the first time in the club's history.
Ramsey was appointed England manager on 25 October 1962 and immediately caused a stir when he predicted that England would win the next World Cup, which was to be held in England in 1966. When Ramsey took over, he demanded complete control over squad selections. Before Ramsey, Walter Winterbottom had been manager, but selections and other decisions were often carried out by board committees and so forth. When Ramsey took over all of these duties, it led to him being referred to as 'England's first proper manager'. His decision to appoint a young Bobby Moore as captain also showed Ramsey's ability to see great potential in young players.
In the semi-final, England faced a skillful Portuguese side containing the tournament's top goal-scorer Eusébio. However, England won a 2–1 victory in a memorable match which saw them concede their first goal of the competition from the penalty spot. On 30 July 1966, Ramsey's promise was fulfilled as England became the World Champions by beating West Germany in a thrilling final. Ramsey came under pressure to restore the fit-again Jimmy Greaves to the side but he stuck to his guns and kept faith with Greaves's replacement, Geoff Hurst, who was to thoroughly vindicate Ramsey's judgement by scoring a hat-trick in a 4–2 win (after extra time) at Wembley. Ramsey remained his usual self during the celebrations - not joining in, but rather opting to let his players soak up their achievement. His boldly made promise was now fulfilled.
He was knighted in 1967 in recognition of England's World Cup win the previous year.
The fortunes of Ramsey's England declined in the 1970s. They entered the 1970 World Cup as one of the favourites and many people thought their squad superior to that of 1966, but having qualified for the later stages after a memorable match against Brazil when Gordon Banks made his famous save from Pele's header, they lost to the Germans 3–2 in the quarter-finals, after having been in the lead 2–0 with only twenty minutes remaining. In 1973, England failed to qualify for the World Cup. Later, Ramsey was sacked by the FA, many of whose officials had long held apparent grudges against him.
The later stages of his career were as a Board director and caretaker manager of Birmingham City and then as technical advisor to Panathinaikos between 1979 and 1980.
Sir Alf Ramsey suffered a massive stroke on 9 June 1998, during the 1998 World Cup. By this stage was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He died less than a year later, in a nursing home, on 28 April 1999, at the age of 79 from a heart attack, along with Prostate Cancer.
We will win the World Cup.