Bobby Charlton’s hug with Jack was a pure moment for two tangled brothers | Jonathan Wilson

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A blurry image of open affection after England’s triumph in 1966 was a rare snapshot in a complicated relationship

There is a photograph taken seconds after the final whistle had blown in the 1966 World Cup final that shows Jack and Bobby Charlton kneeling in exhausted embrace. It was taken by Albert Cooper, one of the Sun’s northern sports photographers, who had been sent to Wembley for the game. Denied pitch access, perched on a plank at the back of a stand. Too far from the action and struggling with a 300mm f5.6 Novoflex lens and no tripod, he shot pretty much nothing of any value that day until, with fans jumping all around him and the makeshift platform wobbling, he captured the brothers in the moment of their greatest triumph.

It is not, by his own admission, the sharpest shot. A dark triangle – a shoulder? A flag? – covers the bottom left of the uncropped image, but that only adds to the sense of intimacy. For this is an extraordinary moment. There, amid 100,000 celebrating fans, before television cameras broadcasting the game around the world, are two of England’s greatest ever sportspeople, two brothers who had shared a bed through their childhood, locked in a moment of private ecstasy.

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Written by Jonathan Wilson
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