Greatest football story: The day the World cup trophy was stolen in 1966

Greatest football story: The day the World cup trophy was stolen in 1966

The FIFA World Cup which is arguably the biggest footballing competition globally is set to take center stage in all football related discussion next year - as Russia is set to host the World in the 2018 World Cup.

The World Cup over time had given lovers of the round leather game thrilling moment to always reminisce about; from the Zidane Mattarazi headbut to the Brazil thrashing by Germany just a few to mention.

Of every top story that have shocked football Lovers, one that tops it all was when the FIFA World Cup throphy was stolen in 1966 at the Westminster Central Hall in England.

Shocking right? Here is a breakdown of how the greatest theft in footballing history happened:

During a well police guarded FIFA World Cup trophy exhibition at Westminster, England on Saturday, March 19 1966, two uniformed officers guarded the trophy around the clock, reinforced by two plainclothes officers during the day.

Greatest Football story: The day the World cup trophy was stolen in 1966

Pickles the heroic dog (photo: FIFA.com)

Additional guards stood beside the display cabinet when the exhibition was open, but nobody was watching the trophy all the time. On Sundays, the Central Hall was used for Methodist services.

While on Sunday March 20, when the guards began a noon circuit, around 12:10 they noticed that someone had forced open the display case and the rear doors of the building and stolen the trophy. The wooden bar that held the door closed was lying on the floor; thieves had removed the screws and bolts that held it from the other side of the door.

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They went as far as remiving the padlock from the back of the display case, took the trophy and left the way they came.

Greatest Football story: The day the World cup trophy was stolen in 1966

The prestigious FIFA World cup trophy

While of this was happening none of the guards saw or heard anything suspicious, though one of them reported that he had seen a strange man by the public telephone when he had visited the lavatory on the first floor.

Shortly after the theft, relevant policing authorities took over the case and did interview the guards and two maintenance workers. One of the churchgoers had also noticed a man and gave a different description.

The story went public across the world over the next day. Police had begun to look for two potential suspects but the description the newspapers gave did not correspond to the either one of the men the witnesses had seen.

The next day being Monday, March 21 1966, Joe Mears, the Chairman of the Football Association, received an anonymous phone call. The unknown man said that Mears would receive a parcel at Chelsea Football Club the next day. The parcel was delivered to Mears' home. It contained the removable lining from the top of the trophy and a ransom note that demanded £15,000 in £1 and £5 notes.

The letter stated that Joe Mears should place a coded ad in the personal Ads column of The Evening News. If they followed the further instructions, they could get the trophy back by Friday, otherwise, or if Mears informed the police or the press, the thieves would melt the trophy down. Shortly afterwards Mears received another call – a man who identified himself as "Jackson" changed the instructions to £5 and £10 notes.

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Despite the warnings, Mears contacted the police, met Detective Inspector Charles Buggy of the Flying Squad and gave the trophy lining and the letter to him. Police told Mears to place the ad on 24 March, and contacted a bank that created a false ransom payment out of bundles of ordinary paper, with real money only at the top and bottom, which were placed in a suitcase. Two police officers were to act as Mears' assistants in handing the money over and went to his home to wait for the next call.

How a dog discovered the trophy

David Corbett, a local on March 27, 1966 who was taking a stroll with his dog named Pickles around the Beulah Hill district of southeast London, when Pickles begun to sniff at a parcel that was lying under the hedge of Corbett's house.

It was wrapped in an old newspaper, tied with string. When Corbett opened the parcel, he recognized the trophy when he noticed the winner's names on the bottom. He handed the parcel to the police at Gypsy Hill police station.

Police took Corbett and the trophy to Cannon Row police station where Harold Mayes of the FA identified the trophy. The Police who were surprised on the mystry in finding the trophy briefly suspected that Corbett was involved with the theft but he had an alibi.

Police then announced the recovery of the trophy the next morning but retained the Cup as evidence until 18 April. They returned it to the FA before the opening of the tournament.

Pickles the heroic dog briefly became a celebrity after the World Cup trophy incident, and appeared on TV and in some movies.

David Corbett attended the players' celebration dinner after the World Cup Final, and later received rewards totaling £6,000. The Football Association made a replica of the trophy for public celebrations.

NAIJ.com previously compiled an editorial report on 5 incredible FIFA World Cup records.

Nigeria Super Eagles qualify for 2018 FIFA World cup - on NAIJ.com TV

Source: Sports.naija.ng

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