Gary's Glossary of Great Goalscorers; Gary Lineker's Golden Boots: The World's Greatest Strikers 1930-1998. B Y Gary Lineker and Stan Hey. (Hodder & Stoughton, Pounds 17.99)

By Reyburn, Ross | The Birmingham Post (England), April 11, 1998 | Go to article overview

Gary's Glossary of Great Goalscorers; Gary Lineker's Golden Boots: The World's Greatest Strikers 1930-1998. B Y Gary Lineker and Stan Hey. (Hodder & Stoughton, Pounds 17.99)


Reyburn, Ross, The Birmingham Post (England)


Don't be put off by the terrible title. Football books rarely rise above the ordinary but Gary Lineker's personal odyssey tracking down the World Cup's great goalscorers offers a fascinating insight into the game's history.

Lineker interviewing Sir Tom Finney provides an intriguing analysis of English football's harrowing encounter with reality in the 1950s. The decade started with a 1-0 defeat v the United States and later came two massacres at the hands of the brilliant H ungarians.

England had lost 6-3 at Wembley in 1953 and then 7-1 in Budapest in 1954. Astonishingly this great Hungarian side, unbeaten for four years, lost the 1954 World Cup final 3-2 after being tactically outmanoeuvred by West Germany.

Such was the huge disappointment back home they delayed their return a week on government advice and when they did get back were warned by police to avoid the streets.

In the mid '50s, the brilliance of Manchester United seemingly offered a future route to glory. But then came the Munich Air Disaster in 1958 and the deaths of the young genius Duncan Edwards and his England colleagues Tommy Taylor and Roger Byrne.

"The England team, fortified by a strong element of Manchester United's 'Busby Babes' - lost only one match in 1956 and 1957, and even beat Brazil 4-2 at Wembley," writes Lineker.

Sir Bobby Charlton reflected sadly on the loss of Edwards and his fellow England colleagues: "They would have made quite a difference, I'm sure." If Edwards had lived, he would have been just 29 in 1966 when England finally won the World Cup. …

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