Pickles, a dog turned World Cup hero (1966)

In the 1966 World Cup, England lost the trophy before winning it: it happened that in March 1966, months before the tournament began, the Jules Rimet Cup disappeared for ten days. Panic set in among the tournament organizers and at Scotland Yard, until a collie dog named Pickles found the cup..

The trophy, designed in its day by Abel Lafleur, inspired by the Greek goddess of victory, was one of the star objects of a philatelic exhibition organized by the firm Stanley Gibbons Stampex, in the heart of London.

The president of FIFA, the British Stanley Rous, was reluctant to have the trophy displayed in public, but had finally relented, but not before putting three conditions: it had to be transported by a reliable security company, placed in an armored glass case and monitored 24 hours a day and in addition, insured for £30,000 (its real value was about £10,000).

The exhibition was successfully inaugurated on March 19, 1966. But a day later, the trophy had disappeared, on the night of the 20th. It had been an impeccable work by the thieves, who barely left any traces.

The news invades the front pages of the newspapers and the British police get down to work. Hours later, he receives an anonymous notice, signed by a certain ‘Jackson’, who demands 15,000 pounds in exchange for the cup..

It was a false alarm: ‘Jackson’ turned out to be Edward Betchley, a shipyard worker who simply wanted to take advantage of the situation. They sentenced him to two years in prison. At the trial, he wanted to make one thing clear: “whatever my sentence, I hope England win the World Cup.”

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The Scotland Yard Reward

Scotland Yard offers a reward of 6,000 pounds to anyone who offers clues as to the whereabouts of the trophy, but the days go by and there is no news.

Nine days after the disappearance of the Cup, David Corbett, a resident of South Norwood, South London, leaves home with the intention of making a phone call from a booth. He is accompanied by his dog, named Pickles, who suddenly begins to rummage persistently in a hedge next to Corbett’s neighbor’s car..

Buried, the dog discovers a package wrapped in newspaper. “It wasn’t very big, but it was quite heavy. I was scared at first, because I thought it might be an IRA bomb,” Corbett explained.

When he opened the package and saw that the names of previous winners (Brazil, Germany, Uruguay, etc.) were inscribed on the bottom of the trophy, he knew he had found the trophy.

From suspect to owner of a hero

He went to the police: at first, he was considered a suspect in the robbery, but he was eventually awarded the promised £6,000. It was never known who was the perpetrator of the robbery.

Fame, actually, went to Pickles: he was decorated by the League for the Defense of Animals and a brand of dog food gave away food for a year.

He was even in a movie. ‘The spy with the cold nose‘, and together with its owner, he was invited to the banquet celebrating the title conquered by England.

Pickles died a year later, in 1967., strangled by his own leash while chasing a cat. Corbett buried him in his own garden.

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