Ray Wilson (English footballer)

Last updated

Ray Wilson
Champions statue.jpg
Statue of Ray Wilson (far right)
Personal information
Full name Ramon Wilson
Date of birth(1934-12-17)17 December 1934
Place of birth Shirebrook, Derbyshire, England
Date of death 15 May 2018(2018-05-15) (aged 83)
Place of death Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England
Position(s) Left back
Senior career*
1952–1964 Huddersfield Town 266 (6)
1964–1969 Everton 116 (0)
1969–1970 Oldham Athletic 25 (0)
1970–1971 Bradford City 2 (0)
National team
1960–1968 England 63 (0)
Teams managed
1971 Bradford City
Men's football
Representing Flag of England.svg  England
FIFA World Cup
Winner 1966 England
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Ramon Wilson, MBE (17 December 1934 – 15 May 2018) was an English professional footballer who played at left back. He was a member of the England national team that won the 1966 World Cup. He was born in Shirebrook, Derbyshire. [1]


Club career

Huddersfield Town

Wilson became an apprentice railwayman upon leaving school, but was spotted by a scout playing amateur football at Huddersfield Town. He began a combination of working on the tracks by night and training with Huddersfield by day, before being called up for national service.

Quickly singled out as a strong and nippy left back, with good overlapping skills, by the then-Huddersfield Town manager Bill Shankly, Wilson signed professional forms with the club in 1952 after his two-year army posting, [1] and made his debut against Manchester United in October 1955. [2] Two years later, Wilson was Huddersfield's established, first-choice left back.[ citation needed ]


In 1964, Wilson joined Everton, [2] by which time he had already played 30 times for England, and he remains Huddersfield's most-capped England international. However, a torn thigh muscle sustained in training meant that he missed most of his first season at Everton. He went on to win the FA Cup with Everton in 1966. Two years later, he was on the losing side, as Everton were beaten by West Bromwich Albion in the 1968 FA Cup Final. Wilson's fortunes declined at Everton following another injury, and he was granted a free transfer in 1969, missing out on Everton's First Division title in 1970.

Later career

Wilson moved to Oldham Athletic on a free in 1969. In 1970 he moved again to Bradford City. [2] He served as caretaker manager at Bradford from September to November 1971 after the departure of Jimmy Wheeler. He took command for ten games before being succeeded by Bryan Edwards. [3]

International career

In April 1960, Wilson won his first cap for England in a 1–1 draw with Scotland. [1] Over the next 12 months, he became a fixture in the side. The FA selection committee put him in the squad for the 1962 World Cup in Chile, and Wilson played in all three group games and England's elimination in the quarter finals at the hands of Brazil. [1]

After the World Cup, Wilson kept his England place under new manager Alf Ramsey. With Ramsey successfully snatching sole responsibility for picking the team from the FA came a firm feeling that Wilson was Ramsey's highest-rated left-back. Others, such as Liverpool's Gerry Byrne, were given the odd chance, but Wilson remained Ramsey's first choice.

As hosts of the 1966 World Cup, England did not have to partake in a rigorous qualifying campaign, and Ramsey experimented with other left-backs as he shaped a squad for the tournament. Later the same year, Wilson was playing at Wembley on six more occasions, ever-present as Ramsey's England got through a World Cup group consisting of Uruguay, Mexico and France; a highly volatile quarter-final against a violent Argentina, and a semi-final against the skilful but enigmatic Portuguese, which was Wilson's 50th appearance for his country.

Wilson was the oldest member of the England team in the World Cup final against West Germany. [4] Wilson's early headed clearance fell to striker Helmut Haller, who gave the Germans the lead as a result, but after a hat-trick from Geoff Hurst, England ran out 4–2 winners.

Ramsey continued to select Wilson as England progressed through the qualification process for the 1968 European Championships, ultimately going out in the semi-finals and finishing third overall. Wilson's 63rd and final England cap came in the third-place play-off against the USSR. At the time of his final cap, he held the record for the highest number of appearances for an outfield player without having scored a goal, a record since broken by Gary Neville and Ashley Cole.

A serious knee injury suffered in the summer of 1968, coupled with the emergence of young Leeds United full-back Terry Cooper (who would be as impressive in the 1970 World Cup as Wilson was in 1966, despite England's elimination in the last eight), ended Wilson's England career.

After retirement from football

Wilson after his playing days ended built an undertaker's business in Huddersfield. [1] Wilson retired as an undertaker in 1997 to Halifax. In 2000, he and four of his 1966 teammates – Hunt, George Cohen, Nobby Stiles and Alan Ball – were appointed MBE for services to football after a high-profile campaign conducted by sections of the media, which was surprised that their contribution to England's World Cup win had never been recognised by the British honours system. The other six, plus Ramsey, had already received various honours. In 2008, Wilson was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame by a select committee of ex-footballers.

He lived in Slaithwaite near Huddersfield with his wife Pat, who was three years his junior. They had two children. Ray and Pat Wilson were interviewed together in the book No More Worlds to Conquer by Chris Wright (2015).

Wilson was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2004, [5] along with World Cup-winning teammates Martin Peters in 2013 and Nobby Stiles in 2012. It is feared that the disease was brought on by their heading of the heavier footballs used in their playing days. [6]

On 30 July 2016, fifty years to the day since England lifted the World Cup, Wilson's former club Huddersfield Town released its new second-change kit for the 2016–17 season in his honour. It was released with the tag line "Legends Are Rarely Made", and featured a red shirt, in homage to the 1966 World Cup winning kit, and had Wilson's signature in white, just beneath the collar on the back, and below the white badge on the front. Ray's two sons and his wife released a statement alongside the release:

We are very grateful and humbled that Huddersfield Town have chosen to honour our father with this kit. We have spoken to him about it and he is absolutely delighted. Ray often reminisces about his playing days and in particular his enjoyable time at Town and we'd like to thank the club for doing this tribute and it is lovely to know that Ray is so well thought of at Town. [7]

On 15 May 2018, [8] Wilson died in a care home in Huddersfield from Alzheimer's disease after suffering from the condition for 14 years. [9]




Related Research Articles

Everton F.C. Association football club in England

Everton Football Club is an English professional football club based in Liverpool that competes in the Premier League, the top tier of English football. The club is a founding member of the Football League and has competed in the top division for a record 118 seasons since the Football League's creation, having missed only four top-flight seasons. Everton is the second-longest continuous serving club in English top flight football and has won nine league titles, five FA Cups, one European Cup Winners' Cup and nine Charity Shields.

Huddersfield Town A.F.C. Association football club in Huddersfield, England

Huddersfield Town Association Football Club is an English professional football club based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Founded on 15 August 1908, it entered the Football League in 1910. The team currently compete in the Championship, the second tier of English football.

Peter Shilton English footballer

Peter Leslie Shilton is an English former footballer who played as a goalkeeper. He currently holds the record for playing more games for the England men's team than anyone else, earning 125 caps, and holds the all-time record for the most competitive appearances in world football – 1,390. The IFFHS ranked Shilton among the top ten goalkeepers of the 20th century in 2000.

Martin Peters English footballer and manager

Martin Stanford Peters was an English footballer and manager. As a member of the England team which won the 1966 FIFA World Cup, he scored the second of England's four goals in the final against West Germany. He also played in the 1970 World Cup. Born in Plaistow, Essex, he played club football for West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich City and Sheffield United. He briefly managed Sheffield United before retiring from professional football in 1981.

Joseph Mercer, OBE was an English football player and manager. Mercer, who played as a defender for Everton and Arsenal in his footballing career, also went on to manage Aston Villa, Manchester City and England.

Alan Ball Jr. English footballer and manager

Alan James Ball was an English professional footballer and manager. He was the youngest member of England's 1966 World Cup winning team and played as a midfielder for various clubs, scoring more than 180 league goals in a career spanning 22 years. His playing career also included a then national record £220,000 transfer from Everton to Arsenal at the end of 1971. After retiring as a player, he had a 15-year career as a manager which included spells in the top flight of English football with Portsmouth, Southampton, and Manchester City.

David Unsworth

David Gerald Unsworth is an English former professional footballer who was most recently caretaker manager of Everton. As a player, Unsworth played as a centre-back or left-back from 1991 until 2009.

Roger Hunt English footballer

Roger Hunt, is an English former footballer who played as a forward. He spent eleven years at Liverpool and was the club's record goalscorer with 286 goals until that number was surpassed by Ian Rush. Hunt remains Liverpool's record league goalscorer. Under Bill Shankly, Hunt won two league titles and an FA Cup. Regarded as one of Liverpool's greatest ever players, Hunt is referred to as Sir Roger by the club's fans. He was ranked 13th on the 100 Players Who Shook the Kop, an official fan poll.

Nobby Stiles English association football player and manager

Norbert Peter Stiles was an English footballer and manager. He played for England for five years, winning 28 caps and scoring one goal. He played every minute of England's victorious 1966 FIFA World Cup campaign. In the semi-final of that tournament against Portugal, he was given the job of marking the prolific Eusébio. His tough performance resulted in Eusébio being practically nullified for the entire game. Stiles also played in the final, which England won 4–2 against West Germany. His post-match dance on the Wembley pitch, holding the World Cup trophy in one hand and his false teeth in the other, was widely broadcast.

Gerry Byrne (footballer, born 1938) English footballer

Gerald Byrne was an English footballer who spent his entire playing career at Liverpool Football Club.

Pat Rice

Patrick James Rice, MBE is a Northern Irish former footballer and coach. As a player, he made over 500 appearances for Arsenal, winning the Double, and later made a hundred more appearances for Watford. He also won 49 caps for Northern Ireland. After retirement from playing professionally he was at the helm of Arsenal's Academy teams, then served as assistant manager of Arsenal, a position he held since the appointment of Arsène Wenger in 1996, and helped the club to two more Doubles, amongst other silverware, in that time. He announced his retirement from the post on 10 May 2012.

Michael Pejic is a former England international footballer who played in the English Football League for Stoke City, Everton and Aston Villa.

Trevor McGregor Steven is an English former footballer. He became known as a member of the successful Everton side of the 1980s, went on to be an important part of the Rangers 9-in-a-row side and won 36 international caps for England.

Derek William Temple is an English former footballer who played in the Football League as a forward for Everton and Preston North End in the Football League. He was capped once for England.

Clement Stephenson was an English footballer whose 20-year career at Aston Villa and Huddersfield Town included success in both the FA Cup and League Championship. Stephenson's place in history as an inside forward was assured when Herbert Chapman targeted him as the man to lead Huddersfield Town's challenge for three consecutive Football League titles in the 1920s, he also made a single appearance for England in that period.

Warneford Cresswell was an English international footballer who was described as "The Prince of Full Backs" for his renowned tackling and positional skills in the right-back position. In a seventeen-year career in the English Football League he made 571 league appearances, and won seven caps for England.

Barry Horne is a Welsh former professional footballer, former chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association and sports television pundit.

Arthur Rigby was an English professional footballer who played as inside left or outside left. He won an FA Cup winners medal with Blackburn Rovers and five caps for England.

Bobby Moore English professional footballer

Robert Frederick Chelsea Moore was an English professional footballer. He most notably played for West Ham United, captaining the club for more than ten years, and was the captain of the England national team that won the 1966 FIFA World Cup. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest defenders in the history of football, and was cited by Pelé as the greatest defender that he had ever played against.

Ben Chilwell English association football player

Benjamin James Chilwell is an English professional footballer who plays as a left-back for Premier League club Chelsea and the England national team.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Williams, Richard (16 May 2018). "Ray Wilson, the modest linchpin of England's 1966 World Cup winners". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 "Ray Wilson 1934-2018 | Everton Football Club". evertonfc.com. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  3. Frost, Terry (1988). Bradford City A Complete Record 1903–1988. Breedon Books Sport. pp. 76–77. ISBN   978-0-907969-38-9.
  4. "Ray Wilson: England World Cup-winning defender dies". BBC Sport. 16 May 2018. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  5. Association, Press (16 May 2018). "Ray Wilson, England's 1966 World Cup-winning left-back, dies aged 83". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  6. Manger, Warren (8 April 2016). "Three 1966 World Cup heroes diagnosed with devastating Alzheimer's". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  7. "2016/17 THIRD KIT NOW ON SALE". Huddersfield Town A.F.C. 30 July 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  8. Ponting, Ivan (16 May 2018). "Ray Wilson dead: England World Cup winner and one of the finest left-backs of his generation". The Independent . Archived from the original on 16 May 2018. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  9. Glanville, Brian (16 May 2018). "Ray Wilson obituary". The Guardian . Archived from the original on 16 May 2018. Retrieved 16 May 2018.