Ray Wilson: England World Cup-winning defender dies aged 83

Ray Wilson (right)
Ray Wilson (right) played in all six of England's games at the 1966 World Cup

Ray Wilson, a member of England's World Cup-winning side, has died, aged 83.

At 31, the left-back was the oldest player in Sir Alf Ramsey's starting XI which overcame West Germany 4-2 in the 1966 final at Wembley.

He spent most of his club career at Huddersfield Town before moving to Everton, where he helped the Toffees win the 1966 FA Cup.

Derbyshire-born Wilson, who also played for Oldham and Bradford City, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

The Terriers said in a statement they were "devastated" to learn of Wilson's death and added: "He was a regular supporter at home matchdays alongside his eldest son Russell despite battling Alzheimer's disease."

Everton also paid tribute to their former player, saying Wilson was "unquestionably one of the finest footballers to wear the royal blue jersey".

Former Toffees boss Joe Royle, who made his Everton debut the year Wilson helped them to FA Cup success, said: "He is a World Cup winner and played in the last England team that had four, maybe five, world-class players. He was certainly one of those.

"He was the best of his kind at the time. And he was a top guy, always there with a smile or a helpful word. I played a few reserve games with Ray and it was like listening to a maestro. He knew his stuff."

Ray Wilson (right)
Ray Wilson (right) celebrates winning the FA Cup with Everton

Wilson's England team-mate Sir Bobby Charlton also paid tribute to his "close friend".

The 80-year-old said: "Lady Norma and I are deeply saddened by the awful news that Ray has passed away

"We shared some wonderful memories throughout our career and I had the pleasure of being his room-mate. Ray was a great man and he will be missed by so many people."

Another of Wilson's England team-mates, goalkeeper Gordon Banks, described him as "a wonderful guy, on and off the field" and a "world-class player".

"It's very, very sad, horrible news," Banks said.

"He was always one of the lads who wanted to have a laugh in the dressing room and whenever we went out for a drink.

"He was such a wonderful guy, on and off the field.

"As a player, he really was superb. He wasn't a big, strapping guy, but he was so quick.

"He was a world-class player without any question. There were players we just couldn't do without, they were terrific players, and he was one of them."

1966 - a golden year for Wilson

Media playback is not supported on this device

The story of the 1966 World Cup

Wilson was born in Shirebrook on 17 December 1934, and was given the name Ramon, in tribute to Mexican Hollywood actor Ramon Novarro.

He joined Huddersfield at the age of 17 in 1952, having previously worked on the railways. Wilson played in a forward role and in central defence before trying his hand at left-back, where he was advised to remain by reserve-team coach Bill Shankly. It was when Liverpool's legendary manager took charge of the first team in 1956 that the defender's career flourished.

Wilson went on to win the first of his 63 England caps in 1960 when he featured in the 1-1 draw against Scotland. He remains the last Terrier to play at a World Cup while at the club, having played at the 1962 tournament.

After 283 appearances Wilson joined Everton in 1964. Silverware came in a memorable 1966 when Wilson helped the Toffees beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 in the FA Cup final before helping England to World Cup success a few weeks later.

The defender played 154 matches for the Merseyside club before joining Oldham in 1969. He finished his career in 1971 at Bradford, a team he also managed for just 10 games.

Wilson, who went on to open an undertaker business in Huddersfield, was appointed an MBE in 2000.

'A left-back of undoubted world class'

BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty

Ray Wilson may have been one of the more unsung members of England's 1966 World Cup-winning team - but he was a left-back of undoubted world class.

Wilson was the consummate defender but also blessed with lightning pace that would have made him a master even in the modern era, when an attacking edge is called for.

He made his name at his beloved Huddersfield Town but it was at Everton, who he joined at the relatively late age of 29 in 1964, where he enjoyed his greatest successes.

And they all came in the space of two months at Wembley in 1966, playing in the Everton side that came from two goals down to beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 in the FA Cup final and then that historic day when West Germany were beaten 4-2 in the World Cup final.

Ray Wilson can take his place in history as one of only 11 Englishmen to possess a World Cup winners' medal.

Ray Wilson
Ray Wilson made almost 300 appearances for Huddersfield between 1952 and 1964

Top Stories