Keyed up Cooper

World Cup | 1970 | The heat

Written by: Moxcowhite • Daniel Chapman
Artwork by: Eamonn Dalton
Terry Cooper, holding a block of ice in one hand and a paper Coca-Cola cup in the other, wearing England's red away kit at the 1970 World Cup, sweating a lot

Terry Cooper must have been relieved to see his old mate Norman Hunter coming onto the field, both players swapping the red away shirts of Leeds United for the red away shirts of England. But how much help could Hunter be? Here, in the heat and altitude of Estadio Nou Camp, León, Mexico, Cooper was playing his 53rd game of the season. After bitter disappointment with Leeds, aiming to win four trophies and winning none, 1970’s World Cup quarter-final was going into extra-time. West Germany had come back from 2-0 down to make it 2-2. They had brought on a right winger, Juergen Grabowski, as fresh and energetic as Cooper at left-back was sweat-soaked and tired. Every observer thought it was time to get the exhausted Cooper off. But Hunter, manager Alf Ramsey felt, could help Cooper out, the way he did for Leeds. But this was taking Norman’s match count for the season up to 51. People said, later, that Ramsey never adapted to the newfangled concept of tactical subs.

Perhaps Ramsey felt that Cooper could just keep going. He had learned from trying to play his normal attacking game on England’s 1969 tour of Mexico: “In England I can return to a defensive position at three-quarter pace after making an overlap,” he’d said. “But when I tried to do this in Mexico, I felt shattered. I thought my lungs were going to burst.” And he had been analysing his personality. One of his faults, he said, “is that I only play at my best when I’m keyed up. And you can’t help getting keyed up about the World Cup.”

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