As Geoff Hurst, back to goal, swivelled and rifled a thunderous shot on goal, the decisions made by the on-field officials on that English summer's day have since become the stuff of legend.
Hurst immediately turned to celebrate a crucial extra-time goal against arch-rivals Germany, a goal that helped England establish a crucial lead in the 1966 FIFA World Cup final.
The referee consulted with the linesman and immediately pointed to the centre circle. England had their lead. Hurst subsequently added to his previous two goals to secure England’s first, and only, World Cup crown.
But the Germans were outraged. The third goal, they claimed, did not cross the line. And ever since, in Germany at least, a goal that should not have been given has been referred to as a “Wembley goal”.
But did it cross the line? Claims and counterclaims have been made by each interested party since that fateful day in 1966. Obviously, the Germans would cry foul. They had lost a World Cup final against their bitter rivals. It was surely a case of sour grapes. But was it?
Upon closer examination, maybe the Germans had a case. Did the ball, the whole of the ball, really cross the line? What view did the referee and linesman have and exactly what did they think transpired? What is the opinion of the players, both English and German, Hurst included? Did those opinions remain consistent, or change over time?
There is also the question of technology. What role, if any, did technology available at the time play in helping to inform opinions on the validity or otherwise of Hurst’s goal? And what role has technology played since in helping to assess whether the goal should really have stood?
Whatever your view on whether or not Hurst’s goal should have stood, one thing is clear. It was arguably the first ever time that a controversial decision by a referee could be scrutinised by video footage, albeit grainy amateur footage in this case.
Television technology would improve and provide a global platform for the sport to grow. Greater audiences invited greater scrutiny on the performances of match officials. It also shone a light on some of the darker aspects of the beautiful game and what lengths players were willing to go to, in order to win.
The Wembley goal.The road to VAR.
Listen to the brand new series “The Road to VAR” from The 4ThreeThree Global Football Podcast here.