Historians now believe that football managers led opposition to the Second World War by threatening not to release their players to represent England.
‘Back in 1914 we allowed our players to go off to face the Germans and didn’t see them again for four years,’ wrote Portsmouth manager Jack Tinn in a letter to Neville Chamberlain. ‘Plus the state of the pitches was appalling and too many of the lads picked up injuries. One of our boys was left with a couple of dead legs and he didn’t even get a free kick. You get no protection from referees on the continent.’
Although many top players were withdrawn from the squad, call-ups for players from France, Belgium, Australia and the US helped England to victory in extra time, leading to the first singing of the popular terrace chant ‘No World Cups But Two World Wars’.