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World Cup Wanderers: Switzerland 1954

24 May 2018

Ahead of this summer's competition in Russia, bwfc.co.uk gets in the mood by reviewing all former editions of the biggest tournament in football and the World Cup Wanderers who were in action!

With just three weeks to go until the start of the 2018 World Cup, our preview series starts in Switzerland in 1954 with the greatest Wanderer of them all!

NAT LOFTHOUSE
England
Appearances: 2
Goals: 3
Stage reached: Quarter-finals

The 1930, 1934 and 1938 World Cups all passed without the presence of the home nations while no Whites stars were included in England's squad at their inaugural appearance in 1950.

Fast forward four years and Bolton could claim their first representative at the famous competition after Nat Lofthouse was named in the Three Lions' squad for the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland.

Handed his international debut a few months after England's disastrous 1950 World Cup campaign in Brazil, which included an embarrassing defeat to the United States, Lofthouse wasted no time in introducing himself to the international with two goals on his debut against Yugoslavia.

Famously earning his "Lion of Vienna" nickname with another brace, this time against Austria in May 1952, the striker was firmly established as England's first-choice striker come the start of the tournament in Switzerland.

With the Home Championships still providing the path to World Cup qualification at this time, Lofthouse scored a brace against Wales while he was also on the scoresheet against Ireland as England won all three games to win the tournament and qualify.

Drawn in a group with 1934 and 1938 champions Italy, hosts Switzerland and Belgium, the then 28-year-old scored a brace on his World Cup debut against the latter as England opened the tournament with a 4-4 AET.

A withdrawn starter for the Three Lions next outing as they beat hosts Switzerland, Lofthouse returned for England's quarter-final meeting with reigning world champions Uruguay.

Despite equalising for the Three Lions in the 15th minute, it was not to be for Walter Winterbottom's side as they exited the competition after suffering a 4-2 defeat.

The striker's total of three goals from two outings saw him finish the tournament as England's leading goalscorer and joint-fourth goalscorer overall in Switzerland.

Continuing to represent his country for a further four years, Lofthouse was controversially left out of England's final 22-man squad for the 1958 World Cup in Sweden four years later, having been named in the 40-man preliminary squad, despite scoring both goals in Wanderers' 2-0 FA Cup victory over Manchester United as the selectors favoured a more youthful attack.

Calling time on his international career with 30 goals from just 33 appearances, Lofthouse was England's leading scorer at the time of his retirement and remains one of his club and country's greatest ever players.

 


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