The world of football had never seen anything like it! Who was this inexperienced ginger-haired 21-year-old making Beckenbauer and co look like dummies from the wax works? The answer, of course, comes in the form of one of the finest wide midfielders ever to put on the England jersey, and wear it with absolute pride: Alan James Ball.
My first contact with the man oft ridiculed for his high voice was in 1993, when he came to preside over Exeter City reserves at crippling-old Dean Court, Bournemouth. I distinctly remember my dad telling me: "This is unbelievable. When you think what a great player he was, and he's down here with a load of donkeys." I hadn't seen the video clips at that time, but three years later, I did, and I understood immediately.
Ball simply played the Germans off the pitch on that fine afternoon in 1966. He was easily the fittest player on the park, and could have continued running for another 120 minutes immediately Kenneth Wolstenholme said: "It IS now!" Eight years ago, when I tucked in to his autobiography, I came to admired the sheer effort he put in to make sure he was the fittest player around. This was in large part due to the strict training of Alan Ball Snr, who showed amazing foresight for such a young and inexperienced father - much the same as Ball showing amazing ability for such a young and inexperienced player.
Ball's main contribution on that legendary day in 1966 was to cross for Geoff Hurst to ram the ball onto the goal-line off the crossbar, and then receive staunch support from a Russian linesman. He also played a role in the second goal, taking the corner which was eventually slammed in by Martin Peters. However, it is seeming ability to play right back, right midfield and right-wing all-in-one for which he will be most remembered.
After being rejected by both Wolves and Bolton because of his short stature, he was signed up by Blackpool in 1961. He made his debut the following year at just 17, becoming the youngest debutant to pull-on the Tangerine jersey. By the age of 19, he had already scored his first professional hat-trick. He made his England debut in '65, and was the youngest member of the 1966 World Cup squad - although you would never have known it from his world-beating performances.
Everton came calling after the World Cup and it was here he enjoyed the biggest successes of his career, earning legendary status at Goodison for netting the winner in an away win at Liverpool. He was an integral part of the side that collected the 1970 football league championship before hitting the big stage again at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Although stifled by the heat, he certainly was no disgrace, and so nearly scored an equalizer in the unlucky defeat to Brazil - his run and shot resulting in a heavily-rattled crossbar.
Ball moved for big money to Arsenal in 1971 where he mocked Bertie Mee's lack of training knowledge before racking up over 200 appearances and over 50 goals. In 1976, he moved to Southampton, a club he would later manager to one of their highest-ever Premier League finishes in 1995. He also played in North America, before looking terribly out of depth in his first managerial role at Blackpool.
He played for Southampton again after getting the sack at Bloomfield road, and also had spells in Hong Kong and at Bristol Rovers. His subsequent managerial career would take in Portsmouth (twice), Stoke, Exeter, Southampton and Man City. He also joined the England coaching staff on a part-time basis under Graham Taylor. Next to Jackie Charlton, he was undeniably the most successful manager out of all the 1966 medalists, and this is testament to his sheer grit and self-belief.
Unfortunately, it was this same self-belief which finally did for him in 2007, when he bravely tried to put out a fire in his own backyard, over-inhaled, and collapsed at the age of 61. His autobiography, published less than three years before his death, is a fantastic read.