World Cup Hammers

Continuing our regular series on this summer, we look back at West Ham United players who have made an impact at the World Cup finals over the years. Today we feature the 1982 tournament in Spain, when Trevor Brooking experienced an all too brief taste of the finals...

Just eight years after lifting the World Cup in 1966, failure to finish at the top of a three-team qualifying group also containing Poland and Wales, resulted in the shock absence of England at Germany 1974, where the hosts won the trophy.

Geoff Hurst had already made the last of his 49 appearances in the quarter-finals of the 1972 European Championship qualifiers, and now it had been the turn of the 108-times capped Bobby Moore to find the curtain being drawn down on his international career.

Unfortunately, it was the same old story four years later, too, when Italy pipped Trevor Brooking's England in qualifying group two, to head to Argentina '78, where, again, the home nation emerged victorious.

Great Britain's sole representatives in South America were Scotland, for whom future Hammers' boss Lou Macari played in the 1-3 defeat against Peru and a 1-1 draw with Iran.

By now, another West Ham manager - Ron Greenwood - had taken over from the defecting Don Revie who, himself, had succeeded Sir Alf Ramsey as England boss following the debacle of 1974.

And Greenwood superbly stepped into the breach vacated by the mercenary ex-Leeds United boss, who had fled to the Middle East without warning.

Indeed, the former Upton Park supremo rescued the qualifying campaign to steer England to the 1982 finals in Spain, where future Hammer Peter Shilton conceded just one goal in group four as France (3-1), Czechoslovakia (2-0) and Kuwait (1-0) all fell by the wayside.

As England prepared to face West Germany and Spain in the second stage group B, Greenwood was desperately hoping that Kevin Keegan (back) and Brooking (groin) would finally overcome the injuries that had prevented them from kicking a ball in any of their country's first four matches.

Following a goalless draw with the Germans, though, it was now win or bust against the hosts.

Greenwood needed a two-goal victory to qualify for the semi-finals. And with the match deadlocked at 0-0, he knew he had to gamble with his telepathic duo.

"I decided to play my two trump cards," wrote the England boss in his autobiography Yours Sincerely, recounting the moment when he called for Trev 'n' Kev. "I signalled to both Brooking and Keegan that I wanted them on and, with 27 minutes left, they stepped into football's biggest event for the first time in their long careers. It was a marvellous moment for them - and for me too.

"Neither was perfectly fit but, at this point, risks were worth taking. And both could have scored. Keegan headed wide and Brooking, who immediately injected new skill into the game, made his own opening but somehow the Spanish 'keeper Luis Arconada managed to get in the way.

"Spain nil, England nil. It was all over. We hadn't been able to use Brooking or Keegan, who were the engine of our side and that was a tragedy because we would've gone all the way with those two."

Instead, the dejected Three Lions headed for home still unbeaten in five matches, while the Germans progressed all the way to the final where they lost 1-3 to Italy.

"The 1982 World Cup was probably one of the biggest disappointments of my career," admitted Sir Trevor, who won the last of 47 England caps with that late outing in Madrid. "Having got to Spain, it was my last opportunity to play in the tournament and it was so frustrating to have been kept out with a groin injury until half-hour from the end of the final game."

by Steve Blowers, author of Nearly Reached The Sky - West Ham United 1989-2005, available now in the club store.