Ray Wilson (footballer)

Ray Wilson (footballer)

Football player infobox
playername= Ray Wilson

fullname = Ramon Wilson
height =
nickname =
dateofbirth = birth date and age|1934|12|17|df=y
cityofbirth = Shirebrook
countryofbirth = England
dateofdeath =
cityofdeath =
countryofdeath =
position = Left back
youthyears =
youthclubs =
years = 1952–1964
clubs = Huddersfield Town
Oldham Athletic
Bradford City
caps(goals) = 266 (6)
116 (0)
025 (0)
002 (0)
nationalyears = 1960–1968
nationalteam = England
nationalcaps(goals) = 063 (0)
manageryears = 1971
managerclubs = Bradford City

Ramon (Ray) Wilson MBE (born 17 December 1934) was a footballer who played at left back. He was a member of the England team that won the 1966 World Cup. He was born in Shirebrook, Derbyshire.


Early career

Wilson became an apprentice railwayman on leaving school but was spotted playing amateur football by a scout at Huddersfield Town. He began a combination of working on the tracks by night and training with Huddersfield by day, before being called up for National Service.

Quickly singled out as a strong and nippy left back with good overlapping skills by Huddersfield manager Bill Shankly, Wilson signed professional forms with Huddersfield after his two-year army posting and made his debut in 1955 in a game versus Manchester United. Two years later he was Huddersfield's established, first-choice left back.

In April 1960, Wilson won his first cap for England in a 1–1 draw with Scotland. Over the next 12 months he became a fixture in the side. The FA selection committee put him in the squad for the 1962 World Cup in Chile and Wilson played in all three group games and England's elimination in the quarter finals at the hands of Brazil.

Wilson kept his England place under new manager Alf Ramsey after the World Cup, and with Ramsey successfully snatching sole responsibility for picking the team from the FA came a firm feeling that Wilson was Ramsey's highest-rated left back. Others, such as Liverpool's Gerry Byrne were given the odd chance but Wilson was Ramsey's first choice.

This changed in 1964 when Wilson left Huddersfield and joined Everton. He had 30 caps at the time of his departure and remains Huddersfield most-capped England international. He tore a muscle in his first Everton game and missed out on most of that season, as well as a number of England caps.

1966 World Cup

As hosts of the 1966 World Cup, England did not have to partake in a rigorous qualifying campaign and Ramsey experimented with other left backs as he shaped a squad for the tournament. As it neared, Wilson achieved some domestic success when Everton won the FA Cup at Wembley.

Their opponents were Sheffield Wednesday, who started the game as underdogs. Wilson was almost an immediate villain when the game started as he deflected a vicious volley from Wednesday's Jim McCalliog into the net after just four minutes, though McCalliog rightly claimed the goal as his own. Wednesday went 2–0 up but Everton fought back heroically to win 3–2.

Later the same year, Wilson was playing at Wembley on six more occasions, ever-present as Ramsey's England got through a World Cup group consisting of Uruguay, Mexico and France; a volatile quarter final against a violent Argentina and a semi final against the enigmatic Portuguese, which was Wilson's 50th appearance for his country.

The final against West Germany is part of football folklore, both in England and globally. Wilson's weak early header fell to striker Helmut Haller who gave the Germans the lead as a result, but after twists and turns and an historic hat-trick from Geoff Hurst, England ran out 4–2 winners. Wilson was the oldest member of the team – in his 32nd year – and the victory crowned an especially good year for him, winning a major domestic honour and then adding the biggest prize in the game. Only Roger Hunt – a title winner with Liverpool in 1966 – could claim a similarly two-fold success.

Later career

Ramsey continued to select Wilson as England progressed through the qualification process for the 1968 European Championships, ultimately going out in the semi finals and finishing third overall. Wilson's 63rd and final England cap came in the third-place play-off against the USSR. At the time of his final cap, he held the record for the highest number of appearances for an outfield player without having scored a goal, a record since broken by Gary Neville and Ashley Cole. If 1966 was Wilson's year of achievement, then 1968 was his year of near-misses, with the European disappointment adding to a runners-up medal in the FA Cup final earlier that year, when Everton lost to West Bromwich Albion.

A knee injury suffered in the summer of 1968, coupled with the emergence of young Leeds United full back Terry Cooper (who would be as impressive in the 1970 World Cup as Wilson was in 1966, despite England's elimination in the last eight), ended Wilson's England career and began a sharp decline in his fortunes at Everton too. He battled back to fitness but his pace had gone and he was granted a free transfer to Oldham Athletic in 1969, just missing out on Everton's jubilant march to the First Division title in 1970. He retired in 1971.

He also served as caretaker manager at Bradford City from September 1971 to November 1971 after the departure of Jimmy Wheeler. He took command for ten games before being succeeded by Bryan Edwards. [cite book
last = Frost
first = Terry
title = Bradford City A Complete Record 1903-1988
publisher = Breedon Books Sport
year = 1988
pages = pp76-77
isbn = 0907969380

After retirement from football

Unquestionably the 1966 hero with the lowest profile, Wilson nevertheless caused intrigue after his playing days ended by not staying within the game but instead building a successful undertaker's business in Huddersfield. In 2000 he and four of his 1966 team-mates – Hunt, George Cohen, Nobby Stiles and Alan Ball – were awarded the MBE for services to football after a high-profile campaign conducted by sections of the media which was surprised that their contribution to English football's greatest day had never been officially recognised. The other six, plus Ramsey, had already received various gongs. In 2008 Wilson was nominated to enter the Football Hall of Fame by a select commitee ex-footballers.

Wilson, now in his seventies, retired as an undertaker in 1997 and lives in Halifax.


*World Cup: 1966
*FA Cup: 1966 with Everton


External links

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