104 Facts About Alf Ramsey


Sir Alfred Ernest Ramsey was an English football player and manager.

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Alf Ramsey was born and raised in a quiet Essex village.

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Alf Ramsey showed sporting promise from an early age and, after serving in the British Army during the Second World War, embarked on a football career, primarily as a right-back.

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Alf Ramsey was considered a rather slow but accomplished player with a tremendous grasp of the tactical side of the game.

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Alf Ramsey retired from playing aged 35 to become the manager of Ipswich Town, then in the third tier of English football.

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Alf Ramsey lost the England job acrimoniously, following the team's failure to qualify for the 1974 World Cup.

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Alf Ramsey led a somewhat reclusive life in Ipswich over the next two decades and died in 1999, aged 79.

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Alf Ramsey is the first person to have been inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame twice: an inaugural inductee in 2002, in recognition of his achievements as a manager and admitted again in 2010 for his achievements as a player.

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Alf Ramsey remains widely regarded as one of British football's all-time great managers.

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Alfred Ernest Ramsey was born on 22 January 1920 at 6 Parrish Cottages, Halbutt Street in Dagenham, which was then an agrarian village in Essex, about 10 miles east of central London.

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Alf Ramsey was the third of five children, four boys and a girl, born to Herbert Ramsey, a manual labourer who worked a smallholding, kept pigs and drove a horse-drawn dustcart, and his wife Florence.

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Young Alf Ramsey was described by his friend Fred Tibble as "a very quiet boy who really loved sport".

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Alf Ramsey learned skills such as ball control, kicking and heading with a tennis ball.

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Alf Ramsey was not especially popular socially, nor particularly diligent as a student, but he excelled in sports.

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Alf Ramsey carried a noticeable scar above his mouth, a memento of this fight, for the rest of his life.

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Alf Ramsey was selected to play for Becontree Heath School when he was only seven years old, playing at inside-left alongside boys as old as fourteen; his nine-year-old brother Len was at inside-right.

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Alf Ramsey's main strength was generally perceived to be his extremely accurate passing; his chief shortcoming was a lack of pace, for which Ramsey compensated by learning to read the game and position himself well.

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Alf Ramsey played for teams representing the schools of Dagenham and Essex County respectively, and trialled unsuccessfully for the London schools team while at Becontree.

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Alf Ramsey later wrote that his main recollection of it was the performance of one of the Arsenal forwards, the Scotland international Alex James.

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On leaving school in 1934, the 14-year-old Alf Ramsey tried to get a job at the Ford plant, then told his family he intended to become a greengrocer.

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Rather than signing on the spot, Alf Ramsey asked to take the forms home to examine first; he signed them that night and sent them to Portsmouth by post.

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Alf Ramsey spent the next two years working at the Co-op while playing cricket in the summer and football in the winter.

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Alf Ramsey was assigned to the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and underwent his initial training in Truro, where he and other recruits were housed in a hotel commandeered by the army.

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Alf Ramsey rose to be a company quartermaster sergeant in an anti-aircraft unit.

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The 23-year-old Alf Ramsey was cautious, saying he lacked experience, but said he would "give it a try" when the colonel suggested that playing might set him on the way to a professional football career.

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The next day, while en route to Luton by train, Alf Ramsey signed for Southampton as an amateur, making his debut for the club at Luton's Kenilworth Road ground.

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Alf Ramsey was still uncertain about pursuing a football career; he signed the contract only after Southampton assured him that he could leave at the end of the season if he wished.

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Alf Ramsey played in 13 League South matches before military commitments again intervened—in December 1945 he was deployed to Mandatory Palestine, where he accepted an invitation to captain a football team representing the British garrison.

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Alf Ramsey returned to England in June 1946 to find himself entertaining overtures from both the new Southampton manager Bill Dodgin and the Dagenham Co-op, the latter of which offered Alf Ramsey his pre-war job back.

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Alf Ramsey initially turned Southampton down, but accepted after the club offered better terms: £6 per week during the summer, £7 in winter and £8 if he was selected for the league team.

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Alf Ramsey started the season in the reserve team, selected at centre-forward, and scored in each of the first three games.

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Alf Ramsey was the type of player who was a manager's dream because you could talk about a decision and he would accept it and there it was, in his game.

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Alf Ramsey made his full league debut on 26 October 1946, in a Second Division match against Plymouth Argyle at the Dell, replacing the injured regular right-back Bill Ellerington.

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The nervous Alf Ramsey was helped through the match by the calm reassurance and guidance of the experienced Southampton captain Bill Rochford, the team's other full-back.

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Alf Ramsey was kept out of the first team until January 1947, when Ellerington was injured again shortly before an away match against Newcastle United.

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Alf Ramsey kept his place for the rest of the season, gradually growing in confidence.

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Alf Ramsey could read the game so well, that was his big asset.

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Alf Ramsey was greatly impressed by Barkas's positional sense and accurate passing, and adopted him as a role model.

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Consensus on Alf Ramsey's playing style among his fellow professionals was that he was rather slow, but possessed an excellent positional sense, read the game better than most, and distributed the ball exceptionally well for a defender.

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Alf Ramsey became a specialist penalty taker due to his coolness and ability to anticipate the goalkeeper.

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Alf Ramsey restored morale and contributed to a new plan to counter the Brazilian tactics, which were much more fluid than those favoured by English teams of the time.

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Alf Ramsey suggested that Southampton could use long diagonal passes to exploit the gaps the Brazilian defenders left behind them as they ran upfield to attack.

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Dodgin told Alf Ramsey that, given Ellerington's good form, Alf Ramsey was "going to find it very hard" to regain his place in the team.

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Alf Ramsey, not yet in his 30s, was infuriated and considered this a direct insult by Dodgin: he subsequently asked Southampton to place him on the transfer list on 7 March 1949.

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The Southampton chairman and board tried to persuade Alf Ramsey to stay, but his mind was made up—he told them that if he played in the reserve team it would hinder his chances of playing internationally.

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Tottenham Hotspur came in with a last-minute offer, but there was no time for the transfer to go through, and Alf Ramsey was forced to stay at Southampton for the rest of the season.

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Alf Ramsey played a tremendous part in setting the pass pattern, which wasn't typical of the British game.

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Alf Ramsey greatly appreciated the licence Rowe gave him to move forward and attack and, in November 1949, in an away match against Grimsby Town, he scored what is generally considered the best goal of his career.

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Alf Ramsey was not yet finished as a Spurs player, though; indeed in 1954, after Burgess left to join Swansea Town, he was appointed club captain.

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Alf Ramsey had played a total of 250 competitive games for Tottenham in all competitions, across six seasons.

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The selectors again picked Alf Ramsey, but left star winger Stanley Matthews out on the grounds that England could beat the Americans without him, ignoring Winterbottom's protests.

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The England captain Billy Wright recalled that "even Alf Ramsey, who used to be expressionless throughout a game, threw up his arms and looked to the sky when a perfect free-kick was somehow saved by their unorthodox keeper".

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Alf Ramsey, who was fiercely patriotic, took the result as an acute personal humiliation.

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Alf Ramsey remained a central figure in the team, and captained his country against Wales on 15 November 1950 after Wright was left out due to poor form.

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Alf Ramsey had made up his mind that he wanted to remain in football as a coach, but he had no relevant qualifications or managerial experience, bar a part-time coaching spell at London League club Eton Manor.

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Duncan stayed on as club secretary, meaning that Alf Ramsey could concentrate on playing matters, leaving administration to Duncan.

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Alf Ramsey made tactical innovations, noticed by the local newspaper: as early as his first game in charge he had his team taking three distinct styles of corner kick, in a game where the side put on "as poor a performance as one can recollect at Portman Road".

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The following season, Alf Ramsey led his side to become champions of England in their debut season at the top level.

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Alf Ramsey created a strong side based on a resolute defence and two strikers, Ray Crawford and Ted Phillips who between them scored more than 60 goals.

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Not long into the season, on 25 October 1962, Alf Ramsey agreed to take charge of the England national team, commencing 1 May 1963.

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Alf Ramsey left Ipswich after eight seasons having guided them from the Third Division South to the top of English football.

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Alf Ramsey's first competitive match as England coach was a preliminary qualification round for the 1964 European Nations' Cup.

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Alf Ramsey insisted that he pick the team himself and included seven players who would feature in the 1966 World Cup squad.

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Alf Ramsey's statement made three years earlier looked doubtful, but he remained calm and continued experimenting when his side faced Mexico in the next game.

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Alf Ramsey dropped Alan Ball and John Connelly and brought in Terry Paine and Martin Peters, whose advanced style of play as a midfielder matched the qualities Alf Ramsey looked for in his system.

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Alf Ramsey replaced Terry Paine with Ian Callaghan for their final group match, against France.

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Alf Ramsey strongly disagreed, and told the FA to inform FIFA that either Stiles would remain in his team or Alf Ramsey himself would resign.

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On 30 July 1966, Alf Ramsey's promise was fulfilled as England became the World Champions by beating West Germany in the final.

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Alf Ramsey came under pressure to restore the fit-again Jimmy Greaves to the side, but his philosophy was "never change a winning team".

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Hurst recalled that at the end of 90 minutes, Alf Ramsey forbade his players to lie down on the pitch to rest before extra time, as their opponents were doing.

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Alf Ramsey remained his usual self during the celebrations: not joining in, but rather opting to let his players soak up their achievement.

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Alf Ramsey is the only England manager ever to have won the World Cup.

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Alf Ramsey was a winner and without Alf Ramsey England would not have won the World Cup in 1966.

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In 1967, a year after England won the World Cup under his management, Alf Ramsey received a knighthood—the first given to a football manager.

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Mullery subsequently reported that Alf Ramsey had said to him "I'm glad somebody retaliated against those bastards" and paid Mullery's £50 fine levied by the Football Association.

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Alf Ramsey blamed Bonetti and his mistakes, but his own tactics were not beyond reproach.

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Alf Ramsey had asked for the Football League games to be postponed on the weekend before the game to assist England's preparations.

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Alf Ramsey became a director of sportswear manufacturer Gola Sports and of a local building firm, but kept out of the public eye for 18 months or so.

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Alf Ramsey then began watching Ipswich Town, and often acted as a television pundit.

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Alf Ramsey had joined the board of First Division club Birmingham City in January 1976.

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When Willie Bell was sacked as manager in September 1977, Alf Ramsey refused the offer to take his place on a permanent basis, but did agree to act as caretaker until a successor could be found.

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Alf Ramsey resigned his directorship to take on the role of consultant, with a remit that covered not only day-to-day team management but a wide-ranging responsibility for club affairs, to include the selection of Birmingham's next manager.

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Alf Ramsey was quick to deny any such link, insisting that he had "never walked out on anyone".

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Alf Ramsey strongly supported Nobby Stiles when the FA leaned on Ramsey to drop Stiles from the 1966 World Cup quarter-final following a tackle on Frenchman Jacques Simon in the previous game.

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Alf Ramsey strove to mask his working-class Essex origins and to present himself as erudite and worldly, going so far as to adopt an accent that the journalist Brian Glanville called "sergeant-major posh".

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Alf Ramsey tended to speak in a very poncey plum-in-the-mouth way.

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Alf Ramsey was sensitive about the suggestion and, according to one anecdote, seethed with fury when Moore saw some Romany caravans and joked that the manager should "drop in to see his relatives".

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The football journalist Ken Jones related that on one occasion, when Alf Ramsey perceived Moore and Greaves to be mocking his accent on the team bus, he said he would "win the World Cup without those two bastards".

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Alf Ramsey told Southampton he was born in 1922 rather than 1920, reasoning that this might improve his career prospects and compensate for the years he had lost to the hostilities.

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Alf Ramsey propagated this false age for over two decades, in press articles, his autobiography and Who's Who—but not on official documents such as his marriage papers, in which he listed his true date of birth.

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Alf Ramsey married Rita Norris at Southampton Register Office on 10 December 1951.

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Alf Ramsey kept the relationship secret to the extent that Tottenham knew nothing of it until days before the wedding.

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Rita changed her name to Victoria and was generally called "Vic" by Alf Ramsey, who McKinstry records was a good stepfather to her daughter from her first marriage, Tanaya.

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Alf Ramsey was a Freemason of Waltham Abbey Lodge from 1953 until 1981, when he resigned.

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Alf Ramsey was somewhat reclusive but wrote occasional columns for newspapers.

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Alf Ramsey suffered a stroke on 9 June 1998, on the eve of the 1998 World Cup.

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Alf Ramsey died less than a year later, in a nursing home, on 28 April 1999, at the age of 79 from a heart attack.

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Alf Ramsey's funeral was held in St Mary-le-Tower Church in Ipswich, he was then cremated and his ashes were interred in a private ceremony at Old Ipswich Cemetery on 7 May 1999.

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The location of the funeral in Ipswich rather than in London was regarded as a snub to the Football Association whose members Alf Ramsey had never forgiven for his sacking from the England manager post in 1974.

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Lady Alf Ramsey died in March 2018 and was interred alongside her husband.

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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.

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Alf Ramsey became the first person to be inducted twice when, in 2010, he was included in the Hall of Fame as a player as well as a manager.

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Sir Alf Ramsey Way, formerly Portman's Walk, is a street running along the north side of Ipswich's Portman Road stadium, that was named after Ramsey shortly after his death in honour of his achievements as Ipswich Town manager.

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Alf Ramsey was listed in the ten best British managers ever in The Independent, and he is widely regarded as one of British football's all-time great managers.

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