x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

What's it like ... to win the World Cup?

Nobby Stiles recalls helping England to their only World Cup triumph in 1966 where they defeated West Germany 4-2.

My dream was to play for Manchester United - winning the league and then the European Cup in 1968 was special. But to win the World Cup in front of your own fans (England beat West Germany 4-2 in 1966 at Wembley), what more could you want? I don't remember going to sleep the night before the final. My roommate was Alan Ball and we never stopped talking. I always found it difficult to sleep the night before a match anyway because your brain is full of so many things; the opposition and what you are going to do. But Bally was full of energy too; just like he was on the pitch.

He typified what England were all about. He never stopped running and never stopped working. Alf Ramsey, the England manager, used to make us team captains when we were training and we had to pick teams. The gaffer did it on purpose to get us going. Bally would say: "I'll have Jack [Charlton]." So I'd have his brother Bobby [Charlton] to wind him up. But that's how we built up camaraderie. The team changed from the one that started and we grew in confidence with every game.

Geoff Hurst was a wing-half originally. I played for England Youths with him and he ended up a striker and scoring that hat-trick in the final. But the best player on the park that day against West Germany was my roommate. He was fantastic. I see a lot of Wayne Rooney in Bally. I'm a great admirer of Rooney and he's been unbelievable for United this season. He looks as though he enjoys every game no matter how big or small. He grafts and he can make a difference.

If Rooney is on form, why can't England win the World Cup this summer in South Africa? I like the England manager Fabio Capello too. He's making all the decisions and they can be tough, like taking the captaincy off John Terry. Alf's mentality was very strong too. He wasn't bothered about what the media thought back then. He did what he thought was best for the team, like sticking with Geoff instead of bringing back Jimmy Greaves.

It's what helped us win the World Cup. Nobby Stiles is a former Manchester United midfielder. He was part of the England side, led by Sir Alf Ramsey, that won the World Cup in 1966