London: England`s victorious footballers received 1,000 pounds and a raincoat for winning the World Cup in 1966 but compared to the riches on offer for today`s Premier League generation, none were set for life after their playing days ended. With the surviving members of Alf Ramsey`s squad now in their mid-70s and early 80s, health and financial problems have become an issue.
As the country prepares to mark the 50th anniversary of the Wembley triumph over West Germany, a series of initiatives and fundraisers are set to benefit the players who have gone down in folklore with England not having won a major tournament since.
Steff Lungrin, the operations director of the 66W agency, set up in 2013 to look after the squad`s interests, told Reuters an increasing number are "struggling".
"We are trying to create as many sponsorships, fundraisers, dinners all over the country and create as much revenue as we can over the next 12 months to enhance their lives and give them some support as the country remembers 1966," he said.
"It is well known that Nobby Stiles is ill with cancer as is Gordon Banks. Jimmy Greaves had a stroke last year, Jack Charlton has the early stages of Alzheimers and Martin Peters is also struggling."
The 1966 winners were better paid than the generation who came before them following the lifting of the 20 pounds a week maximum wage in 1961 but the financial rewards were a far cry from what the mega-rich players of today enjoy.
Four of the team that beat West Germany 4-2 in the final at Wembley on July 30, 1966 were at Tuesday`s launch of the anniversary celebrations at the Royal Garden Hotel in London, the venue for the draw for the finals 50 years ago to the day.
Hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst, goalscorer Peters, goalkeeper Banks and right back George Cohen, now 76, and needing two sticks to walk, said he was looking forward to the anniversary year.
Cohen told reporters: "My life in the last 50 years has been up and down like you could never believe. I have spent many many months in hospital.
"But I don’t think we have ever stopped talking about 1966. When I go to the supermarket everybody says "Hello George" and I think "where have I met them," and I haven’t. Everyone starts asking questions, shopping takes a long time," he joked.