Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was the longest-serving monarch in British history and her death, at the age of 96 following a 70-year reign, left football mourning the loss of a lifelong supporter.
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s passing is a huge loss to football, to our society, and to the world,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “To our sport, the Queen was present in England’s proudest footballing moment, when she presented the Jules Rimet trophy to Bobby Moore after winning the 1966 FIFA World Cup on home soil, and her support for football spans a lifetime. To society, the Queen was a Head of State for a number of FIFA’s Member Associations, and was an active patron of football across the United Kingdom and a supporter of our sport throughout the Commonwealth. To the world, our football community laments the loss of a global leader who engaged and encouraged everyone she met, and on behalf of football across the world, our thoughts are with the royal family at this most difficult time.”
The Queen was the Head of State for around two dozen FIFA MAs and was patron of the English, Scottish and Welsh Football Associations.
When England hosted the 1966 World Cup, she officially opened the competition. “I welcome all our visitors and feel sure that we will be seeing some fine football,” she said before the opening match at Wembley stadium between England and Uruguay.
After the final, she famously presented the Jules Rimet trophy to the winning captain, Bobby Moore, after England’s 4-2 win over West Germany. The England defender made sure to wipe his hands as he walked up the steps to the royal box before collecting the trophy.
The Queen reflected on that moment in a message to England manager Gareth Southgate before the Euro 2020 final against Italy last year. “Fifty-five years ago, I was fortunate to present the World Cup to Bobby Moore and saw what it meant to the players, management and support staff to reach and win the final of a major international football tournament,” she said.
“I want to send my congratulations and that of my family to you all on reaching the final of the European Championships and send my good wishes for tomorrow with the hope that history will record not only your success but also the spirit, commitment and pride with which you have conducted yourselves.”
During the early years of her reign, she also attended numerous FA Cup finals to present the trophy to the winning captain and offer condolences to the losing team. Players often saw this as the highlight of their careers. She also knighted a number of football personalities, including Sir Stanley Matthews, who became the first footballer to receive that honour.
One of her last acts was to send a message of congratulations to the England team that won the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022.
In keeping with her insistence on strict neutrality, she never revealed whether she had a favourite football team.