THREE Saints legends played a major role in the greatest football show on earth.

While off the field Test Valley-based author and former Fleet Street football writer Norman Giller was chronicling the day that England conquered the world.

Sir Alf Ramsey, Terry Paine and Alan Ball, whose names will be forever entwined with the south coast club were part of the master soccer class of ’66.

It was the game that touched millions of lives and remains the proudest day in English football history.

As the Daily Express’s chief football writer Norman was in the privileged position of spending the entire day and much of the night with the triumphant England team.

He was the first journalist through the dressing room door when the nation lifted the Jules Rimet trophy.

Now in what is his 101st book he has recorded for posterity memories of that red letter day for England in the summer of ’66.

His second by second, minute by minute and ball by ball account is a fascinating action replay of the day that Alf’s boys brought home that prized soccer trophy on July 30, 1966.

Entitled July 30, Football’s Longest Day it marks the 50th anniversary of England’s World Cup victory and for any football fan it is the ultimate “I wish I was here” story.

Norman says: “England’s dramatic 4-2 victory over West Germany set the nation off on the greatest celebrations since VE Day.

“There are copious quotes from all of the main participants in the drama, a full report on the match and an extensive record of the results and team line-ups for every one of their games in the finals.”

Norman has dedicated the book to all those heroes of 1966 who did not make it to the 50th anniversary of England football’s longest and most glorious day.

They include former Saints full back Sir Alf Ramsey and Alan Ball who at 21 was the “baby” of the team.

Alan, who lived in Warsash, died in 2007 aged 61. As well as playing in Saints colours he had a spell at managing the team.

The 224-page illustrated hardback reveals how England were nearly robbed of Ball’s wizardry before they got to the final.

In the end it was the midfield maestro, described as Mr Perpetual Motion, who played a major role in driving the boys in red over the winning line.

Winchester-born Paine was called into the English attack for the second World Cup match against Mexico. It proved to be his 19th and last international appearance.

The host nation became wingless wonders, curtailing the Saints legend’s progress in the tournament.

Norman also provides a rare insight into the mind of the England manager who kept his thoughts and team tactics very close to his chest.

The Daily Express man was among the world press corps whose job of prizing headlines out of Ramsey was challenging. But Norman tells how there was a sad end to the Alf Ramsey journey.

Along with some fascinating soccer stats, the book has a potted history of the 22-man England squad and their opponents, including where are they now.

Determined not to upset the football gods, Norman tells how superstitions ran wild in the England camp.

Even down to making sure players and backroom staff kept the same seat on the team bus.

The author was eager to gather memories of fans watching the big match, whether it was from the Wembley terraces or their armchairs.

Through the Daily Echo he appealed for readers to share their recollections and it opened the floodgates for world cup nostalgia.

Among those wandering down Wembley memory lane are supporters from Southampton and New Milton, along with an Isle of Wight fan who was behind the goal posts where Geoff scored that fourth “It’s all over now” goal.

I remember being on a press trip in Durban, South Africa when World cup TV commentator Ken Wolstenholme suddenly stepped out of the lift at the hotel where we were staying.

He stopped us journos in our tracks before we could chant “It’s all over now”.

Fifty years on it still remains the most famous line in the soccer phrase book.

  • Signed copies of July 30, 1966 Football’s Longest Day available at