Bobby Charlton : biography
By now, England were coached by Alf Ramsey who had managed to gain sole control of the recruitment and team selection procedure from the committee-based call-up system which had lasted up to the previous World Cup. Ramsey had already cleared out some of the older players who had been reliant on the loyalty of the committee for their continued selection – it was well known that decorum on the pitch at club level had been just as big a factor in playing for England as ability and form. Luckily for Charlton, he had all three.
A hat-trick in the 8–1 rout of Switzerland in June 1963 took Charlton’s England goal tally to 30, equalling the record jointly held by Tom Finney and Nat Lofthouse and Charlton’s 31st goal against Wales in October the same year gave him the record alone. Charlton’s role was developing from traditional inside-forward to what today would be termed an attacking midfield player, with Ramsey planning to build the team for the 1966 World Cup around him. When England beat the USA 10-0 in a friendly on 27 May 1964, he scored one goal, his 33rd at senior level for England.
His goals became a little less frequent, and indeed Jimmy Greaves, playing purely as a striker, would overtake Charlton’s England tally in October 1964. Nevertheless, he was still scoring and creating freely and as the tournament was about to start, he was expected to become one of its stars and galvanise his established reputation as one of the world’s best footballers.
1966 World Cup
England drew the opening game of the tournament 0–0 with Uruguay, and Charlton scored the first goal in the 2–0 win over Mexico. This was followed by an identical scoreline against France, allowing England to qualify for the quarter finals.
England defeated Argentina 1–0 – the game was the only one in which Charlton received a caution – and faced Portugal in the semi finals. This turned out to be one of Charlton’s most important games for England.
Charlton opened the scoring with a crisp side-footed finish after a run by Roger Hunt had forced the Portuguese goalkeeper out of his net; his second was a sweetly struck shot after a run and pull-back from Geoff Hurst. Charlton and Hunt were now England’s joint-highest scorers in the tournament with three each, and a final against West Germany beckoned.
The final turned out to be one of Charlton’s quieter days; he and a young Franz Beckenbauer effectively marked each other out of the game. England won 4–2 after extra time.
Charlton’s next England game was his 75th as England beat Northern Ireland; 2 caps later and he had become England’s second most-capped player, behind the veteran Billy Wright, who was approaching his 100th appearance when Charlton was starting out and ended with 105 caps.
Weeks later he scored his 45th England goal in a friendly against Sweden, breaking the record of 44 set the previous year by Jimmy Greaves. He was then in the England team which made it to the semi-finals of the 1968 European Championships where they were knocked out by Yugoslavia in Florence. During the match Charlton struck a Yugoslav post. England defeated the Soviet Union 2–0 in the third place match.
In 1969, Charlton was awarded the OBE for services to football. More milestones followed as he won his 100th England cap on 21 April 1970 against Northern Ireland, and was made captain by Ramsey for the occasion. Inevitably, he scored. This was his 48th goal for his country – his 49th and final goal would follow a month later in a 4–0 win over Colombia during a warm-up tour for the 1970 World Cup, designed to get the players adapted to altitude conditions. Charlton’s inevitable selection by Ramsey for the tournament made him the first – and still, to date, only – England player to feature in four World Cup squads.
1970 World Cup
Shortly before the World Cup Charlton was involved in the Bogotá Bracelet incident in which he and Bobby Moore were accused of stealing a bracelet from a jewellery store. Moore was later arrested and detained for four days before being granted a conditional release, while Charlton was not arrested.