By Rhys Griffiths
It's one of the most iconic images in the history of the game. Hoisted into the air by his undoubtedly exhausted team-mates, England captain Bobby Moore proudly holds aloft the Jules Rimet Cup under the twin towers of Wembley Stadium. The West Germans have been vanquished in a thrilling final thanks to a Geoff Hurst hat-trick and England are world champions.
But just months earlier the football authorities had been facing up to the fact they might not be able to present the solid-gold Cup at Wembley that day in late July. On 20th March 1966 the famous trophy was on display in a glass cabinet at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster when it was stolen, leaving FIFA without a trophy and the detectives of the Metropolitan Police with an incredible case to crack.
It soon turned out that the crooks behind the astonishing theft of the Jules Rimet Cup - named for the founding father of the World Cup - were hoping to extract a ransom for the trophy under threat of melting it down for the gold. An attempt to retrieve the Cup followed, but the operation was bungled and did little more than open the way for an unlikely hero to enter the story.
A week after the trophy was taken, David Corbett left his home in south London to make a phone call at a phonebox across the street. With him was four-year-old mongrel Pickles. The dog's attention was drawn by a package resting near a neighbour's car, so Corbett picked up the tightly-bound newspaper parcel and began to tear away the layers. Moments later the realisation dawned on him: Pickles had found the missing World Cup trophy.
The discovery thrust Pickles into the spotlight and made him an instant celebrity. Corbett didn't do badly either, his part in the story leaving him needing an agent to handle the many offers from the press and holding an invitation to the FA party the night England lifted the Cup. Although of course it was Pickles that all the players wanted to meet.
The incredible tale of the Jules Rimet Cup did not end there. When Brazil won the World Cup for the third time in 1970 they retained the Jules Rimet Cup for good and the trophy was theirs to keep. Which they did - until thieves struck in Rio in 1983 and made off with the cup. It has never been seen again.
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