England World Cup winner George Cohen has revealed his shock at learning the players were duped into parading a fake trophy in 1966.
Cohen said he had spent the last 54 years believing he was holding the real Jules Rimet Trophy when celebrating with thousands of fans on the night of the victory.
The Fulham and England legend was unaware that the FA, with the help of Scotland Yard, had secretly swapped the cup for a replica moments after the Queen awarded it to captain Bobby Moore at Wembley.
The iconic photograph of Bobby Moore holding aloft the Jules Rimet Trophy after England beat West Germany 4-2 in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley – but it was later swapped for a fake in the England dressing room
Moore and manager Sir Alf Ramsey holding the Jules Rimet Trophy at a reception following their historic victory over West Germany – little did they know that the trophy was fake
Cohen, 81, was speaking in a new seven-part podcast called ‘Stealing Victory – The Untold Story of the 1966 World Cup Heist’.
Told the England team had the fake on the night they beat West Germany, Cohen said: ‘I’m staggered. I did not know that, bl***y cheek. It’s outrageous. Just like the FA isn’t it? Bl***y hell, I don’t understand that. I honestly did not know anything about that.’
Peter Weston told the podcast how he was a rookie PC when he was tasked with swapping the real trophy with the fake by the FA.
After watching Moore holding the genuine one aloft after being presented it by the Queen, Weston went to the England dressing room with the fake where he found midfielder Nobby Stiles.
Weston said: ‘I had it under my tunic and walked into the dressing room, it was bedlam, it was packed with people. My main thinking was “I hope Jackie Charlton’s not holding it” because Jackie would have told me to go away.
The World Cup trophy had gone missing in the March before the tournament and was found by a dog called Pickles, pictured with owner David Corbett, in Norwood, London
Police detectives welcome the safe return of the Jules Rimet Trophy after Pickles found it
Scotland Yard was clearly unwilling to take any chances with the trophy after England’s win
‘Out of sheer luck Nobby was sitting starry eyed almost in tears with it in his lap, on his own.
‘I just walked up and said: “Nobby you have this and I’ll have that,” and he looked at me and went “okay” and I took the real one off him and out I went. Straight out and then put it in the boot of the car.’
Nobby, who passed away earlier this month, never told his team-mates what had happened and they unwittingly celebrated with the fake from that moment on.
Crystal Palace fan Peter was just four months into his training when he was ordered on the morning of the final to go to the FA headquarters with two senior PCs.
Asked if he knew why, he said: ‘We didn’t have a clue, not until we actually arrived and then we were introduced to the secretary who had two wooden boxes on his desk.
Nobby Stiles, who recently passed away, was in possession of the trophy as it was switched
England manager Ramsey with Moore and Stiles during the trophy parade at Wembley
George Cohen (back row, second from right) waits for his turn to parade the trophy on the Wembley turf after England’s historic triumph in 1966
Cohen, pictured in 2016, was shocked to learn that the FA and Scotland Yard had secretly switched the real Jules Rimet Trophy for a replica one in the England dressing room
‘He went on to explain that this is the World Cup and this is the replica and this is what you are going to do.
‘We were just wide eyed really. You will be taking these to the stadium where you will be met by the head of security. If England win we want you to swap the trophies when you get the chance.’
Asked why the FA had swapped the trophy Peter told the podcast: ‘It’s politics, pure politics.’
The real trophy was stored in a central London bank vault until it was handed to the next hosts Mexico.
Moore receives the Jules Rimet Trophy from the Queen after England’s triumph in 1966
Thousands of jubilant England fans celebrated victory in the streets, with this huge crowd flocking to the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, where the players were staying
The scenes at Trafalgar Square in London, where fans jumped into the fountains in joy
The fake toured the country, appearing on Blue Peter with Pickles the dog, who, along with owner David Corbett, had found the trophy under a car just days after it had been stolen in March 1966 – four months before the World Cup.
Stealing Victory investigates who actually stole the cup after the crime remained unsolved for five decades.
It explores claims that a deal was done between the police and thieves, uncovers corruption claims against the officer who recovered it, and delves into the seedy world of 1960s gangland London.
The Jules Rimet Trophy was eventually auctioned by the family of the maker and FIFA paid a quarter of a million pounds for it.
The real trophy was again stolen in Brazil in 1983 and has not been seen since.
Stream and download Stealing Victory at auddy.co
Hashtag for the show is #StealingVictory
Players’ wives were in a burger bar!
George Cohen also revealed the players’ wives were excluded from the victory dinner at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington while the FA officials brought theirs along.
‘We all expected our wives to be there in the dining room or meet us in the lounge bit outside it.
‘Then we discover they are somewhere in a burger bar or something. It was outrageous. We just couldn’t believe it. All the other officials’ wives were there but ours weren’t.
The wives of the England players pictured on the evening before the 1966 final
Bobby Charlton Snr, father of World Cup heroes Bobby and Jack, raises his glass in a toast to victory as he dines with the girlfriends and wives of the England team at the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington. Meanwhile, the players and FA officials were having their their own celebratory banquet in another part of the hotel
‘We were pretty angry. That’s rankled with me and our players for years and years and years. It’s a sort of them and us occasion.
‘You’ve got to remember we still were the peak cap era in 1966. It was a case of why have they segregated, why aren’t our wives with us?’
And Cohen revealed that Prime Minister Harold Wilson told the team after their victory that they had saved the pound by boosting the international standing of the nation at a time of financial crisis.
Confidence in the pound was plummeting because of an £800million trade deficit.
Moore and Ramsey, dressed in black tie, holding the fake the Jules Rimet Trophy
Prime Minister Harold Wilson told the team their victory had saved the pound
Wilson was facing calls to devalue sterling but he resisted, feeling the pound was a symbol of Britain’s role as a key player on the world stage.
England’s victory helped him stave off devaluation until the following year.
Cohen said of Wilson: ‘He said that the World Cup could save the pound because we were actually in a bit of a mess even in 1966.
‘And he said because of the euphoria and because of the excitement of the country at the time, foreigners might have thought it would lift us out of our lethargy, and I think he was right, and it’s just as well.
‘I think it did do the country good. There was a sparkle in there all around the country. It was wonderful.’