Ray Wilson

Ray Wilson

Everton Giant 2002

Many can lay claim to being a legend, but few can be labelled as unique, which is why Ray Wilson was named the Everton Giant for 2002.

So how did a quietly spoken, unassuming lad from Shirebrook write himself indelibly into the Everton history books.

30th July 1966 that's how.

Ray Wilson and ten of his England colleagues defeated West Germany in a football match at Wembley to turn themselves into national treasures and bring the World Cup to these shores for the one and only time. No other Everton player in our glorious history has graced the game's ultimate stage.

It may surprise some people that Ray was 29 years of age when Harry Catterick finally secured his signature.

"Everton was a far bigger club than Huddersfield," he recalled.

"I was thirteen years at Huddersfield and most of that time was spent in the Second Division. I did try to get away a few times, but they wouldn't let me. I was 29 when Harry finally got me for Everton and I think Huddersfield realised that it would be daft not to sell me at that age.

"I was a bit annoyed in a sense, because I would have liked to have moved in my mid-twenties. It didn't affect my international career, thankfully, because there were a few of us at either Second Division clubs or with average First Division clubs. George Cohen and Johnny Haynes were at Fulham, Jimmy Armfield was at Blackpool and that's the way it was."

ray Wilson and garrincha Ray Wilson in international action with Brazilian legend Garrincha

The irony is that we could well have had Ray 14 years earlier!

"I had a trial with Huddersfield as a kid and there was an Everton scout watching me," he revealed. "I got a letter from Everton offering me a deal, but I felt loyal to Huddersfield. But I remember looking around Goodison properly for the first time after I'd joined and I thought to myself, 'my word, what have I been missing out on all these years, I should have been here years ago.'"

Ray put pen to paper in the summer of 1964, two years before his memorable year.

Not only did he win the World Cup but he was also a part of the Everton team that won one of the most dramatic FA Cup finals of all time, coming from two goals down to triumph 3-2.

Ray had sole ownership of the left-back jersey for both club and country and his reputation as a defender of extremely rare quality was world-wide but injury prevented him from playing a part in the magnificent Championship side that Harry Catterick fashioned just four years later.

By the time The Toffees lifted the league crown, Ray had moved to Oldham Athletic.

"Strangely enough, Everton won the league just before I joined them and then they won it again just after I left... which I hope was just a coincidence!" he quipped.

It certainly was, and every Evertonian knows it. Everyone who had the privilege of seeing him play would probably select him in their all-time Everton XI and, for his part, this football club is still very close to his heart.

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