While it’s now been a massive 52 years since England actually won the World Cup – and in fact they’ve only made it past the quarter-finals once since – the Three Lions have still provided both their fans and neutrals with some of the most memorable moments in tournament history.
Whether it’s been with amazing highs, near misses or shocking lows, England are never far away from the headlines when it comes to the World Cup. Here are their five most memorable tournament moments.
#5: England vs. Brazil – World Cup 1970
England went into the 1970 edition of the World Cup as reigning champions after their victory in 1966, and many people believed that they actually had a stronger side heading out to Mexico thanks to the addition of newer talent like Alan Mullery and Colin Bell to go along with proven world-class players such as Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton.
The most point of most interest going into the tournament? England were drawn in the same group as hot favourites Brazil, who had a phenomenal team featuring the likes of Jairzinho, Rivelino, Tostao and of course Pele.
In the end, the match lived up to all the hype – a true clash of the titans. And while Brazil ended up winning the game 1-0 thanks to a Jairzinho goal in the second half, both sides had chances to win it and it’s probably better remembered today for two of England’s greatest moments in the World Cup.
First, Bobby Moore’s amazing struggle to keep Pele quiet – something he managed outside of the play that carved out Brazil’s goal – as well as his incredible tackle to rob Jairzinho of the ball. And secondly, perhaps the greatest save in World Cup history, as Gordon Banks somehow managed to keep Pele’s downward header out even when the Brazilian legend was screaming “goal!”
England were eventually eliminated in the quarter-finals by West Germany, while Brazil went on to win the tournament – but for a lot of people, the true final happened in the group stages in this famous game. The post-match photo of Pele and Moore embracing remains iconic some 44 years on.