Virgin Atlantic has teamed up with The National Football Museum to fly the 1966 World Cup Jules Rimet Trophy and the actual ball from the winning match to Japan for the 2002 World Cup celebrations. Under strict security the ball and trophy will be flown out today.
The exhibition featuring the ball and the trophy will be held in Tsuna in Japan fifteen minutes away from the England team camp. 300,000 football fans and players are expected to flock to the exhibition between 27 April and 30 June. The ball is joint-owned by Virgin, Eurostar and the Mirror Group who together rescued it from Germany on the eve of Euro `96.
Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic, commented:
“We are delighted to carry the trophy Bobby Moore and the team celebrated on the pitch with in 1966 and the ball which Geoff Hurst scored his famous hat trick with.
“Having the ball and trophy from 1966 in Japan on display while the team are there will act as a lucky catalyst for success again in 2002.”
Mark Bushell, Communications Manager from The National Football Museum, said:
“Everybody knows the history of the ball but very few people know that the FA, for security reasons, secretly manufactured a second Jules Rimet Trophy for the final in 1966. This trophy was then swapped with the real trophy as the players completed their triumphant lap of honour and unbelievably it stood in for the real World Cup for the next four years. The real trophy was then stolen whilst in Brazil in 1983 making the replica the nearest one can get to the original.”