Ray Wilson: England World Cup-winning defender dies

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Ray Wilson (right)

Ray Wilson, a member of England’s World Cup-winning side, has died, aged 83.

At 31, the left-back was the oldest player in Sir Alf Ramsey’s starting XI which overcame West Germany 4-2 in the 1966 final at Wembley.

He spent most of his club career at Huddersfield Town before moving to Everton, where he helped the Toffees win the 1966 FA Cup.

Derbyshire-born Wilson, who also played for Oldham and Bradford City, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.[1]

The Terriers said in a statement[2] they were “devastated” to learn of Wilson’s death and added: “He was a regular supporter at home match days alongside his eldest son Russell despite battling Alzheimer’s disease.”

Everton[3] also paid tribute to their former player, saying Wilson was “unquestionably one of the finest footballers to wear the royal blue jersey”.

Former Toffees boss Joe Royle, who made his Everton debut the year Wilson helped them to FA Cup success, said: “He is a World Cup winner and played in the last England team that had four, maybe five, world-class players. He was certainly one of those.

“He was the best of his kind at the time. And he was a top guy, always there with a smile or a helpful word. I played a few reserve games with Ray and it was like listening to a maestro. He knew his stuff.”

1966 – a golden year for Wilson

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Wilson was born in Shirebrook on 17 December, 1934, and was given the name Ramon, in tribute to Mexican Hollywood actor Ramon Novarro.

He joined Huddersfield at the age of 17 in 1952, having previously worked on the railways. Wilson played in a forward role and in central defence before trying his hand at left-back, where he was advised to remain by reserve-team coach Bill Shankly. It was when Liverpool’s legendary manager took charge of the first team in 1956 that the defender’s career flourished.

Wilson went on to win the first of his 63 England caps in 1960 when he featured in the 1-1 draw against Scotland. He remains the last Terrier to play at a World Cup while at the club, having played at the 1962 tournament.

After 283 appearances Wilson joined Everton in 1964. Silverware came in a memorable 1966 when Wilson helped the Toffees beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 in the FA Cup final before helping England to World Cup success a few weeks later.

The defender played 154 matches for the Merseyside club before joining Oldham in 1969. He finished his career in 1971 at Bradford, a team he also managed for just 10 games.

Wilson, who went on to open an undertaker business in Huddersfield, was appointed an MBE in 2000.

References

  1. ^ Alzheimer’s disease. (www.liverpoolecho.co.uk)
  2. ^ in a statement (www.htafc.com)
  3. ^ Everton (www.evertonfc.com)

BBC Sport – Football