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Sir Alf Ramsey
Alf Ramsey.jpg
Personal information
Full name Alfred Ernest Ramsey
Date of birth 22 January 1920(1920-01-22)
Place of birth Dagenham, London, England
Date of death 28 April 1999 (aged 79)
Place of death Suffolk, England
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Playing position Right-back
Youth career
1940–1943 Portsmouth
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1943–1949 Southampton 90 (8)
1949–1955 Tottenham Hotspur 226 (24)
National team
1948–1953 England 32 (3)
Teams managed
1955–1963 Ipswich Town
1963–1974 England
1977–1978 Birmingham City
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Sir Alfred Ernest "Alf" Ramsey (22 January 1920 – 28 April 1999) was an English footballer and manager of the English national football team from 1963 to 1974. His greatest achievement was winning the 1966 World Cup with England on 30 July 1966. They also came third in the 1968 European Championship and reached the quarter-final stage of the 1970 World Cup and the 1972 European Championship under his management. He was knighted in 1967 in recognition of England's World Cup glory the previous year.

As a player, he had been capped 32 times between 1948 and 1954, scoring three goals, and was part of the Tottenham Hotspur team which in 1951 became the first English team to be champions of the top flight a year after promotion.

Between the end of his playing career and his appointment as England manager, Ramsey was Ipswich Town manager for eight years, taking them from the Third Division to the top of the First Division in that time.

His final job in football was manager of Birmingham City, which he left in March 1978.


Playing career

Ramsey was born in Dagenham, Essex. Having been a gifted amateur as a pupil and as a player for his army regiment, he played for Portsmouth in the London War League in 1942 before moving to Southampton from 1943 to 1949 (since 1944 as a professional), and Tottenham Hotspur after that. He was very successful with Spurs, playing as a right-back in more than 250 cup and league games, and in 1948 made his England debut against Switzerland; he went on to captain his country three times. His last game for England was the 6-3 defeat by Hungary in November 1953, in which he scored a penalty. As a player Ramsey was considered slow: but had excellent positional sense, read the game better than most, had awareness, strength, and excellent distribution for a defender. He was also a specialist penalty kick taker; his coolness and ability to anticipate the goalkeeper earning him the nickname, The General.

Managerial career


Ipswich Town

He retired from playing in 1955 to become manager of Ipswich Town. He guided the Suffolk-based side to third place in the Third Division South in his debut season, the side scoring 106 goals in the 46 league fixtures. Ramsey's second season in charge led to the division title, Ipswich's second at that level, and promotion to the Second Division.

The Suffolk-based side established themselves at the Second Division level for the following three seasons with mid-table finishes. Ramsey also managed his side to moderate success in the FA Cup, reaching the Fifth Round in the 1958-59 season. After three seasons of mid-table finishes, the fourth brought further success to Portman Road as Ramsey guided the Blues to the Second Division title and into the top flight for the first time in the club's history.

Ramsey's Ipswich achieved unprecedented success the following season as he led his side to the Championship in their debut season at the top level. The side had been tipped by virtually all contemporary football pundits and journalists for relegation at the start of the season, making the achievement arguably one of the most remarkable in the history of the League.

Alf Ramsey's tactical astuteness, working with a squad of solid but not outstanding players, baffled and astonished the illustrious football clubs against whom Ipswich were playing. Ramsey had found the style he would take to the England job the following April; choosing players to fit his system on the pitch. He left Ipswich Town in April 1963 having guided them from the Third Division South to the very top of English football.


He was appointed England manager in 1963 and immediately caused a stir when he predicted that England would win the next World Cup, which was to be held in England in 1966. This was a bold statement to make, as England's performance on the international stage had been poor up to that point. The World Cup started in 1930: but England refused to participate until 1950, when they suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the U.S.A. When Ramsey took over, he demanded complete control over squad selections. Before Ramsey, Walter Winterbottom had been manager, but selections and other decisions were often carried out by board committees and so forth. When Ramsey took over all of these duties, it led to him being referred to as 'England's first proper manager'.

Ramsey was a firm but fair manager and was often regarded as difficult by the press. He ran a strict regime with his players and made sure that no-one felt that they enjoyed special status, star player or not. In May 1964, after a number of players failed to show up for a meeting in a hotel about a forthcoming tour, amongst them Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton, they eventually returned to their rooms to discover their passports left on their beds. His strict regime didn't suit everyone but the players with real talent and respect for the game responded well to them and had great respect for Ramsey. Very few of those who played for Ramsey spoke ill of him. In the preparations for the 1966 World Cup, Ramsey made sure that no player was confident of a place in the final 22, which resulted in players performing at their highest level. His decision to appoint a young Bobby Moore as captain also showed Ramsey's ability to see great potential in young players. Another one of his abilities was as a master tactician: a quality that he had first shown with his reading of the game as a player. When it came to tactics, Ramsey had revolutionary ideas.


During his time at Ipswich, Ramsey began experimenting with a new style of play that would eventually lead to success in the World Cup and led to his England team being styled, "The Wingless Wonders". As natural wingers were not always known for their defensive qualities, Ramsey started dropping them in favour of attacking midfielders who could also drop back strong in defensive roles. This system proved revolutionary as it often baffled opposing fullbacks, who would naturally expect to see a winger coming down the flank at them once the ball was kicked off: instead, the attacking midfielders and strikers were taking the ball through the middle of the defence and scoring. This style of play proved successful at Ipswich, but really showed its worth when England traveled to Spain to play a friendly with them before the World Cup. As Bobby Charlton remarked, "The Spanish fullbacks were just looking at each other while we were going in droves through the middle". To go to Spain (who were, after all, the reigning European Champions) and win easily was a rare achievement for England, and clear evidence that Ramsey's techniques were working.

The 1966 World Cup

With his final squad chosen, Ramsey set about winning the World Cup for England. The first group game was against Uruguay and despite an array of attacking talent upfront including Jimmy Greaves and Roger Hunt, England were held to a 0-0 draw. Ramsey's statement made three years earlier was looking in doubt now: but he remained calm and still experimenting when his side faced Mexico in the next game. Ramsey was using the 4-3-3 system and for each of the group games used a winger, John Connelly against Uruguay, Terry Paine against Mexico and Ian Callaghan against France.

Ramsey dropped Alan Ball and John Connelly and brought in Martin Peters, whose advanced style of play as a midfielder matched just the qualities Ramsey looked for in his system, and Terry Paine. England beat Mexico 2-0 and faced France in their last group match. England went on to beat France 2-0 with Ian Callaghan replacing Terry Paine securing qualification to the knockout rounds. Two difficult situations arose from the final group match, however. After making a vicious tackle and being cautioned, midfielder Nobby Stiles came under flack from the top FIFA officials, who called for Ramsey to drop him from the side. Ramsey was having none of it, and firmly told the FA to inform FIFA that either Stiles would remain in his team or Ramsey himself would resign. Another bad tackle was committed during that match, resulting in Tottenham striker (and one of England's most prolific goal-scorers) Jimmy Greaves being injured and sidelined for the next few matches. Despite having more experienced strikers in his side, Ramsey selected young Geoff Hurst as Greaves's replacement, once again seeing potential in the young West Ham forward. The France match also marked Ramsey's final game with a winger. After it, he dropped Ian Callaghan from his side and brought back Alan Ball to strengthen the midfield.

For the knockout stages, England's first opponents were a notoriously rough Argentina side. Ramsey once again showed his tactical awareness, and, now he was no longer using wingers, he decided to switch from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2. With Ball and Peters operating on the flanks, the midfield now boasted Nobby Stiles and Bobby Charlton in the centre. After a violent quarter-final (where the Argentine captain Antonio Rattin refused to leave the field after being sent off), England scraped a 1-0 win thanks to Geoff Hurst latching onto a beautiful cross from Martin Peters and heading home a goal. Ramsey came under flack when he stopped his players swapping shirts with the Argentinians in protest at their dirty play and was then reported to have described Argentinian players as "animals".

In the semi-final, England faced a fluent and skillful Portuguese side containing the tournament’s top goal-scorer Eusébio. However, England won a 2-1 victory in a memorable match which saw them concede their first goal of the competition from the penalty spot. Ramsey had found the perfect defensive formula that went unchanged throughout the entire tournament.

On 30 July 1966, Ramsey's promise was fulfilled as England became the World Champions by beating West Germany in a thrilling final. A lot of Ramsey's tactics and decisions proved their worth in this final. Ramsey came under pressure to restore the fit-again Jimmy Greaves to the side: but he stuck to his guns and kept faith with Greaves's replacement, Geoff Hurst, who was to thoroughly vindicate Ramsey's judgement by scoring a hat-trick in a 4-2 win (after extra time) at Wembley. Filling his side with a good balance of experience and youth proved vital when the gruelling final went to extra time. The youth in the team powered England through extra time. A particular example of this was Alan Ball who, at 21, was the youngest player in the England side. Even in extra time, he never showed signs of tiredness and never stopped running - famously setting up Hurst's controversial second goal, as well as having a few chances himself. Even as the match ended with Geoff Hurst scoring England’s fourth goal, Ball was still running down the pitch in case Hurst needed assistance. Rather than a cross from Hurst, Ball was greeted by a number of England fans running onto the pitch who, thinking that the game was already over, had already started celebrating England's victory.

Ramsey remained his usual self during the celebrations: not joining in, but rather opting to let his players soak up their achievement. With his boldly-made promise now fulfilled, Ramsey had proved that the 4-4-2 system could work and had assembled an England team that could compete on the highest level due to physical fitness and good tactics. He remains exemplary as to this day and is the only England manager ever to have won the World Cup.


Despite famously losing to Scotland 3-2 at home in the qualifying competition, England still qualified for the 1968 European Championship, only to lose out in a 1-0 defeat by Yugoslavia in the semi-finals. England had to settle for third place after beating the Soviet Union.


The fortunes of Ramsey's England declined in the 1970s. They entered the 1970 World Cup as one of the favourites and many people thought their squad superior to that of 1966, but having qualified for the later stages after a memorable match against Brazil when Gordon Banks made his famous save from Pele's header, they lost to the Germans 3-2 in the quarter-finals, after having been in the lead 2-0 with only twenty minutes remaining. The blame was put partly on Sir Alf's cautious tactics and partly on the stand-in goalkeeper, Chelsea's Peter Bonetti.

The early 70s saw failure in the 1972 European Championships (again to the Germans), and in a heartbreaking world cup qualifier against Poland at Wembley in October 1973, England failed to qualify for the World Cup. Again while Ramsey's tactics were partly to blame (his inappropriate, mistimed substitutions, for example), England had also been spectacularly denied a win over that would have secured their place by a mixture of poor finishing and incredible goalkeeping from Poland's Jan Tomaszewski. A few months later, Sir Alf was sacked by the FA, many of whose officials had long held apparent grudges against England's finest ever manager. Leo McKinstry has said "England's most successful manager would have had a legacy fit for a hero had it not been for the malevolence of the FA chief Harold Thompson".[1] [2]

Later life and death

The later stages of his career were as a Board director and caretaker manager of Birmingham City and then as technical advisor to Panathinaikos between 1979 and 1980. He also appeared, in illustrated form, in the Roy of the Rovers comic, when he took over as caretaker manager of Melchester Rovers while Roy himself was in a coma. Sir Alf also had a sporadic column in the Daily Mirror in the late 1980s and early 1990s, his thoughts written down by Nigel Clarke.

Sir Alf Ramsey suffered a massive stroke on 9 June 1998, during the 1998 World Cup. By this stage was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He died less than a year later, in a nursing home, on 28 April 1999, at the age of 79 from a heart attack, along with Prostate Cancer.


Sir Alf

Ramsey was made an inaugural inductee of the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002 in recognition of his impact on the English game as a manager.

Sir Alf Ramsey Way, formerly Portman's Walk, is a street in Ipswich that was named after Ramsey shortly after his death in honour of his achievements as Ipswich Town manager. In 2000, a statue of Ramsey was erected on the corner of the street named after him and Portman Road, at the North Stand/Cobbold Stand corner of the stadium. The statue was commissioned by the Ipswich Town Supporters' Club after an initial idea by local fan Seán Salter. Lady (Vickie) Ramsey continues to live (2009) in Suffolk..,,10272~346104,00.html.  </ref>


Ramsey often came across as an "aloof" and "proud" figure who talked what was once described as "sergeant-major posh" despite coming from a working-class background (during Euro 96, much was made in the English media of the difference between his accent and the unabashed Cockney tones of Terry Venables, his successor who also came from Dagenham, and what this said about social changes in England). In spite of the airs that he gave himself, he allowed his players to address him as "Alf", which is unusual for managers even today. He had a particular dislike of the media and of anything that he saw as bad manners. He often trained his side hard, a practice which paid off when England were able to battle on despite the heat in their World Cup 1966 Final against West Germany. He seemed to have felt nothing but disgust for his successors. At Ipswich, after he left for the England job, he refused to give Jackie Milburn any advice in his managerial career. Milburn was sacked after nine months, following Ipswich's relegation from the top flight. Neither did Ramsey get on with Bobby Robson, who some say did a better job than Ramsey as manager of Ipswich. Not only did Robson guide Ipswich to the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup, and a high place in the League, he also got England to the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup. Many thought that Ramsey's attitude to Robson was evidence of jealousy - even though Robson failed to match his achievements in winning the English championship with Ipswich and the World Cup with England. Members of Ramsey's family have suggested that he was liable to take a negative view of anyone who took over one of his jobs. Shortly before he died, however, Ramsey passed on his thanks to Sir Bobby through Bobby's wife after the Robsons paid for his bills in his nursing home. Sir Bobby later declared that Alf was the greatest British football manager ever.


  • "We will win the World Cup" - Ramsey said after taking the England job in 1963.
  • "Never change a winning team."
  • "It seemed a pity so much Argentinian talent is wasted. Our best football will come against the right type of opposition - a team who come to play football, and not act as animals." - Ramsey's indignant opinion of Argentina after England beat them 1-0 in a bruising quarter final in the 1966 World Cup.
  • "You've won it once. Now you'll have to go out there and win it again." - Ramsey's brief team talk prior to the extra-time period in the 1966 final.


As a player

Tottenham Hotspur

As a manager

Ipswich Town


1966 World Cup final

In the 1966 World Cup final only the 11 players on the pitch at the end of the 4-2 win over West Germany received medals. Following a Football Association led campaign to persuade FIFA to award medals to every non-playing squad and staff member, George Cohen received the medal on behalf of the former England manager's family from Gordon Brown at a ceremony at 10 Downing Street on 10 June 2009. [3]

Career statistics


Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1946-47 Southampton Second Division 23 1
1947-48 42 5
1948-49 25 2
1949-50 Tottenham Hotspur Second Division 41 4
1950-51 First Division 40 4
1951-52 38 5
1952-53 37 6
1953-54 37 2
1954-55 33 3
Total England 316 32
Career Total 316 32

Managerial statistics

Team Nat From To Record
G W D L Win %
Ipswich Town[5] England August 1955 April 1963 &0000000000000369.000000369 &0000000000000176.000000176 &0000000000000075.00000075 &0000000000000118.000000118 &0000000000000047.70000047.7
England[6] England May 1963[7] May 1974[7] &0000000000000113.000000113 &0000000000000069.00000069 &0000000000000027.00000027 &0000000000000017.00000017 &0000000000000061.10000061.1
Birmingham City England September 1977 March 1978 &0000000000000026.00000026 &0000000000000010.00000010 &0000000000000004.0000004 &0000000000000012.00000012 &0000000000000038.50000038.5


  1. ^ "The Guardian" "Hero cast aside - Sir Alf Ramsey, 1970s"
  2. ^ Leo McKinstry, "Sir Alf: A Major Reappraisal of the Life and Times of England's Greatest Football Manager," published by HarperSport, 2007.
  3. ^ World Cup 1966 winners honoured
  4. ^ :: National Football Teams ::.. Player - Alf Ramsey
  5. ^ "Alf Ramsey". Pride of Anglia. Retrieved 2008-02-14.  
  6. ^ "England Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2007-05-24.  
  7. ^ a b "England's Coaches/Managers - Alf Ramsey". England Football Online. Retrieved 2008-07-01.  

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Brazil Aymoré Moreira
FIFA World Cup winning managers
Succeeded by
Brazil Mário Zagallo

Simple English

Alf Ramsey
File:Alf Ramsey
Personal information
Full name Sir Alf Ramsey
Date of birth 22 January 1920(1920-01-22)
Place of birth    Dagenham, England
Date of death    28 April 1999 (aged 79)
Height 1.72 m (5 ft 7+12 in)
Playing position Defender (retired)
Senior clubs
Years Club
Tottenham Hotspur
National team
1948-1954 England
Teams managed
Ipswich Town
Birmingham City

Alf Ramsey (22 January 1920 - 28 April 1999) was an English footballer and football manager. He was born in 1920 and played for Southampton F.C. and Tottenham Hotspur F.C. He also played for the England national football team 32 times and scored three goals. Alf Ramsey was in charge of Ipswich Town F.C. for nearly ten years, Ipswich are the only team to win the First Division title in their first season in the top division. Ramsey then became manager of the England team. He was manager when England beat Germany 4–2 in the World Cup final at Wembley Stadium. He is the only England manager to win a World Cup.

In tribute to Ramsey, Ipswich Town F.C. commissioned a life-size statue of him which is positioned directly in front of Portman Road (home ground of Ipswich Town F.C.).

Club career statistics

Club Performance League
SeasonClubLeague AppsGoals
1946-47SouthamptonSecond Division231
1949-50Tottenham HotspurSecond Division414
1950-51First Division404
CountryEngland 31632
Total 31632

International career statistics


England national team



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