Can you lose and win a FIFA World Cup in the same year? The answer is yes.
It happened to England in 1966, when they were the host nation of the World Cup.
With only a few months to go before the games were played, someone stole the trophy and demanded a ransom. The tournament organizers were so desperate that they secretly asked silversmith George Bird to make a replica.
C.hen in July 1966 England thrashed the West German team 4-2, became the world champion. Luckily, that day the iconic image of English captain Bobby Moore raising the cup was left for posterity. The truly.
Until 1970, the soccer World Cup awarded to the winner was the Jules Rimet trophy, made of sterling silver, plated with gold, a blue malachite base and weighing almost 4 kilos.
It represented Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, and its name honored the French president of FIFA who helped create the sporting event.
In March 1966 the sculpture was put on display at a stamp show at Westminster’s Central Hall in central London.
Two security guards were supposed to be by the trophy case at all times during opening hours, but on March 20 they failed in their duty. That same day, a religious service was held in another part of the building, filling it with people.
During their noon circuit, the guards discovered that the back doors of the building had been forced, as well as the display case. The trophy was gone.
The thief ignored the stamp collection, valued at around £3m, taking only the trophy3,000 lbs.
Three days later, the then Football Association Chairman, Joe Mears, received a ransom note signed by someone named Jackson demanding £15,000.
A meeting was arranged with an undercover police officer carrying counterfeit money. At the agreed place he met Edward Bletchley, a petty thief.
Bletchley was arrested, but did not have the cup and insisted that he was only a go-between. He never found anyone else involved in the crime.
“Gherkins” to the rescue
Seven days after the theft, Pickles -“Gherkins in Spanish- alerted his owner, David Corbett, about a parcel wrapped in newspapers in a hedge near his home in south London. The dog had sniffed out the abandoned World Cup.
Pickles became a celebrity after his discovery and both the man and the dog were treated to the celebratory meal. after England won the tournament in July; he was even allowed to eat from his owner’s plate.
Pickles was awarded the National Defense Canine League medal and many awards.
He also became a television star when he appeared in the film The Spy with a Cold Nose with Eric Sykes, a British actor, screenwriter and film director well known in the UK for roles in British comedies in the 50s.
They invited him to a multitude of events throughout the world, but at that time the sanitary restriction mandated that dogs had to be quarantined for 6 months. after traveling, so his owner declined all offers.
Pickles died the following year, but such was his legacy that his necklace is on display at the National Football Museum.
This wasn’t the last time the World Cup was stolen
In 1970, the trophy was given to Brazil in perpetuity after winning the tournament for the third time and a new one was designed for future World Cups, the one currently awarded, made of 18-karat gold and depicting two human figures holding the earth.
The original Jules Rimet glass, the same one that Pickles salvaged, it was stolen again from the Brazilian Football Confederation building in 1983. It has not been seen since.
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