England's Only World Cup Glory
The country that invented, codified and spread the most popular sport in the world surprisingly has only one World Cup victory.
The year was 1966 and John Lennon famously proclaimed that the Beatles have now become "more popular than Jesus". Several months later it was England's national soccer team that drew global attention when they defeated Germany 4-2 for the Cup title.
A combination of home field advantage and a remarkable group of players made it happen: defender and captain Bobby Moore, striker Geoff Hurst, and midfielders Bobby Charlton and Martin Peters.
Moore, Peters and Hurst were a trio of West Ham boys while Charlton hailed from Manchester United. Hurst is still celebrated today as the only player to perform a hat-trick in a Cup final, or score three goals in a single match.
That year, England basked in soccer greatness but the island that launched the game in the 19th century would not raise another Jules Rimet trophy.
Perhaps the nation's golden moment resembled the success of its own homegrown Beatles, a once in a lifetime talent combination that created nothing less than magic.
More than fifty years on and England reached the World Cup semi-finals only twice, in 1990 when they lost to West Germany in penalty shoot-outs, and in 2018 when they were taken down by Croatia 2-1.
Meanwhile, Brazil has led the international competition with 5 Cup championships followed by Germany and Italy at 4 each.
Nevertheless, the English football brand endures like the British empire, gone but not without its legacy. The Premier League is the most watched soccer league in the world and when Russian and Chinese investors went shopping for soccer teams, they bought the Brits.
BASEBALL April 2, 2010 Former MLB pitcher Mike Cuellar dies at the age of 72. A 2x World Series champion and 4x All-Star, Cuellar started off with the Cincinnati Reds in 1959 and played for 5 teams, spending the most years with the Baltimore Orioles. He won the AL Cy Young award in his first season with the dynastic Orioles and was their starting pitcher at the 1969 World Series against the NY Mets. Cuellar closed his career with an ERA of 3.14 and 1,632 strikeouts.
BASKETBALL April 2, 2000 At the 19th Women’s NCAA Basketball Championship, the Connecticut Huskies defeat the Tennessee Volunteers 71-52. Led by their famed coach Geno Auriemma, the Huskies claimed their second national title. They would win another 9 championships and become the nation’s most successful women’s basketball program to date. The Connecticut ladies dispatched Penn State at the Semi-finals before taking on Tennessee for the crown.
GOLF April 8, 1990 Nick Faldo wins the 54th annual Masters Tournament held in Augusta, Georgia. Shooting a 278 (-10) and tying Raymond Floyd in the final round after the latter bogeyed on the 16th hole, Faldo emerged victorious in the playoff showdown. It was his second consecutive win at the Masters and third of what would be six career majors. Born in Herdforshire, England, Faldo turned pro in 1976 and has won more majors than any other modern European golfer.
OLYMPICS April 12, 1980 The U.S. Olympic committee announces their boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. A total of 66 countries chose not to attend the games due to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Nevertheless, 80 other nations did agree to send their athletes to the first Olympics that were held in a communist country. Four years later, the Russians and their East European allies would follow-up with a boycott of the Los Angeles games.