My World Cup - Cliff Jones
26 June 2014|Tottenham Hotspur
As the World Cup enters the knockout stages in Brazil, Spurs legend and Welsh former winger Cliff Jones recounts his memories of the famous competition.
What was the first World Cup you can recall watching?
It must have been the one before the 1958 World Cup which I played in for Wales. It would have been 1954. Wales were not in it – the only time Wales ever appeared in the World Cup was in 1958. Germany were there, I think they won the tournament, and Hungary – they were the team back then.
Who were the stars you remember from that tournament?
Hungary were the side at that time, so it would have been one or two of their players. I remember the likes of Ferenc Puskas and the forward Nandor Hidegkuti – they had some top players in that side.
Have you ever been to a World Cup match as a supporter?
I did go to the 1966 World Cup Final at Wembley when England won. I am lucky to be able to say that I was there. It was fantastic, a great occasion. I saw an incredible game, and Geoff Hurst – will he ever forget that game?
If there was one World Cup game you could have gone to, which one would it be and why?
I suppose when Brazil were winning at the time when Pele was in the side. He was such a fantastic player and it would have been amazing to have seen that 1970 Final when they destroyed Italy in Mexico.
Have you ever represented your country at the World Cup before?
Yes, I played for Wales in 1958. It was a great experience getting to the quarter-finals, and we got beaten by the eventual winners – Brazil – who won 1-0. A certain young player called Pele, who was playing in one of his first games for Brazil, got the goal – it was his first World Cup goal. Although we were disappointed to get beaten, it was, in some ways, something special to be on the field at the same time as Pele, to see the emergence of possibly the greatest player the world has ever seen.
What are the best memories you have of your own country at the World Cup?
Well as I said, the only time Wales have ever reached the Finals was in 1958 so it would obviously be that tournament. It was such a long time ago now! I suppose just being on the field at the same time that Pele emerged into the football world would be a memory that stands out for me.
What has been the best match you’ve ever seen at the Finals?
I thought the final in 1966 was the best. That was a fantastic game, and a fantastic occasion to see England beat West Germany – I’d always go for that.
And what has been the best goal?
I think one of Bobby Charlton’s in the1966 World Cup – against Portugal he lashed it in from the edge of the box as Bob used to do. He never got inside the penalty box did Bob, all his goals were from outside the area!
Who do you think will have a big impact at the 2014 World Cup?
You know that Germany’s going to be there or thereabouts, they’re always well organised. You’ve got to look at Brazil as well. They have home advantage. It worked for England when they won the World Cup, so home advantage is a massive boost. Belgium could be a good shout as well. They have the young lad Romelu Lukaku, plus the Spurs lads – Nacer Chadli, Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele – I think Dembele is awesome. Belgium will be strong as well.
Which two teams do you fancy to make it to the final, and who will lift the trophy?
Germany are always going to come to it full-on, but Brazil have home advantage, so you can’t bet against Brazil, can you?