What happened to England’s 1966 heroes and what do they think of their modern-day counterparts?
As the player who most riotously celebrated England’s 1966 triumph, waking up from the greatest day of his career in the garden of a random house in Walthamstow, we should not really be surprised that Jack Charlton has already made appropriate plans for a potential World Cup final on Sunday.
His son John owns a pub in a remote coastal village in Northumberland and that is where big Jack, at 83 the oldest living member of England’s most famous team, hopes to be watching over a game of pool and a pint of Caffrey’s.
“He was at mine for a barbecue after the quarter-final,” says John. “He likes how Gareth Southgate has relaxed things and made it fun. It’s all about the team spirit and bond, like in 1966.
“He would love them to win, but thinks it’s a scandal that they have waited this long since the last semi-final or final. I said, ‘You never know, if they get to the final, the FA might take you to Moscow.’ He said, ‘I’m not going to Russia!’ It’s a quiet place, my pub, but busy for the games. I should think it will be chock-a-block on Sunday.”
That might just become a glorious understatement. The idea of watching this generation of England players trying to emulate 1966 with one of only eight surviving predecessors should appeal beyond the usual regulars.
“Aye, it’s certainly all starting up again,” says John. “You’re the third press lad I’ve had on wanting to know what Dad thinks. It’s strange. To me, he’s just Dad. I was chatting about it this morning to one of the locals. He looked at me and said, ‘But John, your dad is a legend.’”
The boys of ’66. Back in the limelight and, whether funny, moving or tragic, this inspiring and deeply patriotic collection of friends, husbands, brothers and dads each have an extraordinary story to tell. And for the rest of us, including the Football Association, there are also some rather jarring lessons to be learned.
‘Bring it home, boys – we are right behind you’
Sir Geoff Hurst has been enjoying the past few days. The still sprightly scorer of the only World Cup final hat-trick is summing up the unassuming goodwill that his team-mates have always felt towards those seeking to emulate them.
“Bring it home, boys – we are right behind you,” he says. It has, though, been an emotional few months. On the week before England flew to Russia, those who were still able had gathered at Huddersfield Crematorium to say their final goodbye to Ray Wilson, the gregarious and great left-back, who became the third of their team after Bobby Moore and Alan Ball to pass away. The FA was represented there by Tony McCallum, the national coach development manager, rather than any of their most senior executives.
Hurst can still vividly recall Wilson telling him that he had dementia. “We were signing autographs with other sporting celebrities,” he says. “Next to us were two very famous boxers. Ray and I were listening. Who they fought against, which fights they won, which round it was … they had absolutely no idea. They couldn’t remember. Ray looked across to me and, bear in my mind he’d just been diagnosed, said, ‘Welcome to the club.’”
That club is sadly also now inhabited by Martin Peters, the other goalscorer in the final, and Nobby Stiles, the man of the match in the semi-final. Sir Geoff’s wife, Judith, speaks almost daily with Peters’ wife, Cathy.
“She tells her how difficult it is living with and caring for someone who has dementia,” says Sir Geoff. “Some deteriorate more quickly than others. Ray had 16 or 17 years living with it. Martin, I’m guessing, is now five or six years. He appears to have deteriorated quite sharply. It’s an awful disease.”
For some years now, Stiles has also been extremely ill at a Manchester care home. The brutal sadness of the journey that he is now on was underlined when Bobby Charlton admitted after one visit that he sensed his great friend no longer recognised him. Sir Bobby was in tears as he left. Theirs was an era when the approach to player welfare can be summed up by Terry Paine’s experience in England’s 1966 group game against Mexico. After a first-half clash of heads, all he can remember was coming around on a table in the dressing room after the match having somehow still played the full 90 minutes. In the final, The Telegraph’s match report even says that, “poor Wilson hardly knew where he was after a blow on the head.” And yet what is so striking is the absence of any blame.
“There’s no anger,” says Sir Geoff. Wilson’s widow, Pat, has always echoed that sentiment.
“Ray was grateful to do what he loved,” she says.
This current outbreak of World Cup fever naturally still stirs mixed emotions. It is 11 years now since Ball, the youngest player and man of the match in the final, died of a heart attack.
“This all puts him to the forefront of your mind, which is a good and bad thing,” says his son, Jimmy, now a coach at Stoke City’s academy. “You want to move on with your life, but he is always there. It’s brilliant to watch England playing with freedom, belief and no fear. Dad would have absolutely loved that.
“Some of the traits that Gareth Southgate is showing, Alf Ramsey was the same. He puts the players first – there is humility and a togetherness. If these players go on and win, they deserve everything they get – but I hope the country then wakes up and gives the same accolades to the surviving ’66 boys.”
In an era when gongs are often dished out like confetti, the treatment of the 1966 squad remains baffling. There are three knights – Hurst, Ramsey and Bobby Charlton – and belated OBEs and MBEs for those who started the final. Yet look deeper and the anomalies feel startling. Jimmy Greaves played in the 1966 World Cup and is among British football’s greatest players, but has nothing. Meanwhile, football has Sir Dave Richards, Sir Bert Millichip and Gordon Taylor OBE. “No disrespect to Geoff Hurst, who is a lovely fellow, but he couldn’t have done what he did without the others – same as Harry Kane,” says John Charlton. “The powers that be obviously decided they weren’t worth it, and they are getting older and older now. They are getting less and less.”
‘A hero – still the diamond shining in the leaves’
Two of the most shocking stories relate to perhaps the two most revered figures of 1966. Sir Bobby describes Sir Alf as “the greatest hero in the story … still the diamond shining in the leaves”. Sir Alf regarded his captain, Bobby Moore, as “the best footballer I ever worked with”. And yet both were to die long before the statues that now exist at Wembley were commissioned and seemingly without quite knowing what they meant to the country.
Pat Godbold was Sir Alf’s secretary at Ipswich Town and among those mourners at the funeral this year of his wife, Lady Victoria, who died aged 97 in the same semi-detached Ipswich house that they bought in 1966. Items from her estate, including a letter offering Sir Alf the England job at a capped annual £5,000 salary, have recently been up for auction.
“Lady Ramsey followed England until the end,” says Godbold. “One of her favourite current Premier League players was Aaron Ramsey. She rather liked the surname.”
Sir Alf was 54 when he was sacked in 1974 and would never take another permanent job in management. “Broken” is how Lady Victoria described him, believing that his “shabby” treatment contributed to his failing health.
“A superb man – very thoughtful and very private,” says Godbold.
Ramsey would largely get by on his £75 weekly state pension and, when he later needed to move from a general ward at Ipswich Hospital to a care home while suffering with cancer and dementia, the costs were funded by Lady Victoria’s savings. In his last interview in 1995, Sir Alf said: “I love three things in life – my wife, my country and football.”
Harry Redknapp can still barely contain his anger when he thinks about Moore’s treatment. After a series of rejections and non-replies to applications for coaching jobs, Moore worked for Capital Radio immediately before his death from cancer aged 51. Redknapp had been his assistant at the amateur non-League club Oxford City. “We would be in the pouring rain or freezing cold and I would think, ‘What am I doing here?’ Then I would look over at Bob and think, ‘What is he doing here?’ He had everything to be a top manager – except for the opportunities.”
When Redknapp was at West Ham years later, he was sickened to see Moore asked to leave Upton Park after arriving ticketless at a largely empty stadium to catch the end of a match.
Moore never returned as a fan.
‘Dad always said that he would never swap his era’
When Gordon Banks, England’s greatest goalkeeper, arrived at the Holiday Inn in Stoke on Monday, the receptionist did not quite appreciate the irony in telling him that the Gordon Banks Suite was unavailable for his interview. Banks eventually settled down in the dining room to outline his fervent hope for England to succeed. He has been looking at his World Cup winners’ medal before every game, but shares a familiar sense of marginalisation.
“I hope if these guys succeed they feel more appreciated by the FA than we were,” he said. It is only Banks, Roger Hunt and the Charlton brothers who have not sold their medal. The West Germany team who lost the 1966 final were each paid £7,000 and given a house and a Mercedes for their achievement. The 22 England players simply received a £1,000 bonus.
“Mine went on a racehorse called Tornado – unfortunately it didn’t run like one,” says Paine. The squad later worked in professions that ranged from funeral directing and construction to the pub trade and road haulage.
There is vast disparity in who has been in a position to profit commercially from their triumph. Failing health, loss of mobility, serious disease or impaired memory have become increasingly common. And yet an unbreakable bond endures. They refused numerous requests to turn their annual get-together into a commercial event and, according to John Charlton, will keep trying to reunite “until there is nobody left”.
There is also no hint of regrets. The regrets should perhaps belong to others, even if it is not too late to right certain wrongs and ensure comparable future generations are treated differently.
“People talk about the money in football, but Dad always said that he would never swap his era,” says Jimmy Ball. The fun they had is then confirmed during a conversation with James Mossop, who was working for The Sunday Express at the 1966 final.
“I was waiting in the foyer of the Royal Garden Hotel when Jack appeared. He said, ‘You and I are going out on the town.’ Jack’s wife, Pat, was heavily pregnant, and so he was alone.”
The Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, had just visited to congratulate the players. Charlton and Mossop dodged the crowds by crouching behind the PM’s official car and following as it departed. They hijacked the first passing taxi, did not need to buy a drink all night and, having ended up at a house party in Walthamstow, were spotted the following morning in the garden by a rather surprised neighbour peering over the fence.
“Jack had a bit of paper in his pocket, saying, ‘Please return to Room 546, Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington’,” recalls Mossop.
‘That’s our plan. Let’s hope England make it’
Back in Northumberland, John Charlton laughs when I tell him that I have spoken to Mossop. But by the end of our conversation, he is having second thoughts about whether Sunday’s potential pub gathering might be a bit much.
“I’ll have to think carefully about it,” he says. So should we mention it in the paper?
“Oh aye,” he says. “You can put it in there. It would be great. That’s our plan, anyway – let’s hope England make it.”
They think it’s all over? In just five short days, it could in one sense prove true. The most exclusive club in British sport could be opening its doors to new inductees for the first time since 1966. And no one would be happier than those founder members themselves.
Thailand cave rescue: ‘It felt like saving the world’ – the full story
Thai rescue teams arrange a water pumping system at the entrance to the flooded cave complex.
The rescue operation to free the last of the 12 boys and their football coach from a Thailand cave could have been a disaster, divers have revealed, with water pumps draining the area failing just hours after the last boy had been evacuated.
Divers and rescue workers were still more than 1.5km inside the cave clearing up equipment when the main pump failed, leading water levels to rapidly increase, three Australian divers involved in the operation told the Guardian on Wednesday, in the first detailed account of the mission to be published.
The trio, stationed at “chamber three”, a base inside the cave, said they heard screaming and saw a rush of head torches from deeper inside the tunnel as workers scrambled to reach dry ground.
“The screams started coming because the main pumps failed and the water started rising,” said one of the divers, speaking anonymous because he is not authorised to comment.
“All these headlights start coming over the hill and the water was coming … It was noticeably rising.”
The remaining 100 workers inside the cave frantically rushed to the exit and were out less than an hour later, including the last three Thai navy Seals and medic who had spent much of the past week keeping vigil with the trapped boys.
The boys of the Wild Boar football team were brought out in three daring rescue operations starting on Sunday morning. An elite team of 19 divers were involved in ferrying the boys and their 25-year-old coach the approximately 3.2km path from the muddy slope where they had been sheltering to the outside world.
The first four emerged on Sunday, then next four on Monday and then the final five about 8pm local time on Tuesday evening. The operation required the boys to learn to breathe using scuba masks and to traverse narrow, jagged tunnels.
During the final mission, as the three Seals and doctor were passed up the human chain of rescuers that had formed inside the cave, each section began cheering and applauding. The rescuers compared it to a joyful Mexican wave that continued until the entrance.
The rescuers in the daisy chain spent more than eight hours a day standing on a tiny patch of wet, muddy ground waiting for their turn to pass the boys along the treacherous path. “If one of those people doesn’t do their jobs properly, the stretcher falls,” one diver said.
Erik Brown, Mikko Paasi and Claus Rasmussen (left to right), divers involved in rescuing the last group of boys trapped in the cave.
Erik Brown, Mikko Paasi and Claus Rasmussen (left to right), divers involved in rescuing the last group of boys trapped in the cave. Photograph: Facebook/ Mikko Paasi
The journey from chamber three to the cave entrance took about four to five hours initially, but was reduced to less than an hour after a week of draining and clearing the mud path using shovels.
The 12 boys, who wore diving cylinders and were each tethered to an adult diver, had to submerge themselves for much of the journey but were carried on bright red Sked stretchers whenever they entered patches of dry ground. Each one left the cave on these stretchers still wearing their breathing masks.
Much of last week was spent clearing the 1.5km path from chamber three to the entrance. When the Australian divers arrived on 30 June, “the complexity and scale [of the cave] was unknown”, said commander Glen McEwen of the Australian federal police at a briefing on Wednesday.
Cave rescue hailed as Thailand’s ‘mission impossible’ – video
The Australian divers, carrying 46kg of diving gear, were among the teams ferrying radioes, air cylinders and other equipment into the third chamber.
Six Australian police divers and one navy diver spent 75 hours in that cave, McEwen said, “moving approximately 20 tonnes of equipment through the caving system”.
The equipment included industrial-size pumps, oxygen and air tanks, medical supplies and food.
“They did dive and as you can appreciate at that time there were no pumps in operation,” McEwen said. “So it was an unfriendly operation, it was narrow, it was flooded.”
They were extraordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Australian police commander Glen McEwen on the rescuers
The Australians were unable to go further because their gear was too large: going beyond chamber three required passing through a hole less than a metre wide.
The specialist cave divers and the boys wore smaller equipment such as rebreathers and tanks at their sides, rather than on their backs.
The divers compared parts of the journey to moving through the S-bend of toilet. They said there were three main sumps on the path to chamber three, about 10 to 20 metres long, separated by up to 300m of dry ground.
McEwen said the Thai-led operation was the most complex the police had been involved with. “It’s amazing what a human being can do,” he said. “They were extraordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
It emerged on Wednesday morning that Richard Harris, the south Australian doctor who gave the boys the all-clear to be extracted starting on Sunday, learned soon after he emerged from the cave for the last time that his father had died.
Major Alex Rubin from the Australian Defence Force said on Wednesday Harris was “personally one of the most professional doctors I’ve ever met”.
“His unique skillsets as a specialist doctor and also his extensive experience as a cave diver was quintessential to the success of this operation, which was led very well by the Thai authorities,” Rubin said.
“[He] is an extremely humble man and the amount of weight and pressure that was put on him, I have the utmost respect for everything he’s done.”
He added: “The chilren who went through this ordeal in the cave were heroes in their own right and the Thai Seals themselves went above and beyond. I would class them as heroes.”
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How the psychology of the England football team could change your life
This week, the England midfielder Dele Alli was asked if he was nervous about the big tests up ahead: first, of course, the team’s semi-final against Croatia on Wednesday. “Excited, not nervous,” he replied. His apparent happiness and confidence reflected an England team that seems transformed from previous incarnations. Where once it was stuffed with entitled, surly stars, burdened with the weight of history and the pressure of expectations, it now comes across as a hungry, humble team, playing with lightness and joy.
“We’ve spoken to the players about writing their own stories,” said the manager, Gareth Southgate, after the team beat Colombia in an unprecedentedly victorious (for England) penalty shootout. “Tonight they showed they don’t have to conform to what’s gone before. They have created their own history … We always have to believe in what is possible in life and not be hindered by history or expectations.”
The team appears in a better place psychologically than it has for generations. Much of the credit has gone to Southgate, but also to Pippa Grange, the team psychologist, who has been working behind the scenes. “She’s an amazing person,” Alli said on Monday. “Everyone listens to her when she talks.”
Grange was appointed by the FA as its head of people and team development in November last year, given the job of building resilience while confronting the pressures and psychodramas faced by previous England squads. The FA has said it searched globally for the right person for the job, but Grange, like most of the young players, isn’t an obvious superstar in her field; there is no self-promoting social media presence or bestselling self-development books.
She wrote in 2013 that being a woman in a male team environment “is a constant navigation, for everyone. I have no interest in being one of the lads and I don’t quite fit in the ‘nurturing mother figure’ category in terms of the leadership work I do. I would be professionally ineffective if I remained in the background, psychologically safe with minimal voice, and I am not here to be the centre of attention as some form of entertainment. I don’t want to be completely separate because that would make me inaccessible and probably be a lonely place to operate from.”
Born in Yorkshire, but said to be an Arsenal fan, Grange graduated in sports science from Loughborough University and played basketball in England’s National League, before moving to Australia in 1996, where she undertook a doctorate in psychology. Since then, she has been working as a “culture performance coach” for sports bodies including rugby teams in New Zealand and the Australian [Rules] Football League’s player association. Her expertise is in changing the culture of groups, and she built a reputation in Australia as someone unafraid to confront issues head-on.
The midfielder Eric Dier said: “I think a lot of the work that we’ve done with her has been prior to the tournament starting, over the last six or seven months.” This has reportedly included getting the players to sit down together in small groups to share their life experiences and anxieties, and to reveal intimate truths about their character and what drives them. The point, Southgate has said, is to build trust, “making them closer, with a better understanding of each other”.
Pippa Grange in Melbourne, Australia, in 2010.
Pippa Grange in Melbourne, Australia, in 2010. Photograph: Fairfax Media
The England football team has focused on the mental side of the game before, most prominently with the psychiatrist Steve Peters, who was recruited before the 2014 World Cup. What is new is the extent to which psychology has been embraced (prior to Grange’s appointment, the performance consultancy Lane 4 was working with the FA on psychological tactics). Access to Peters, it was reported, was offered to the players only if they felt they needed it – and not many would have admitted to wanting help.
“The whole group must buy into the idea that the sports psychologist has come with a specific set of skills and practices that are really worthwhile,” says Andy Lane, the professor of sport and learning at the University of Wolverhampton. “A recent turnaround in professional soccer is the preparedness to use sports science in an integrated way. It’s that acceptance by the whole group that gives one professional the chance to be effective.” Much of that culture shift will have been down to Southgate, who has shown his support for Grange, whom he clearly respects. “She is a strong and important addition to the team,” the manager said in May.
Grange is a fan of inspirational quotes, from Oscar Wilde to Nelson Mandela to Michael Jordan; some adorn the training gym walls (“Success isn’t given, it’s earned,” reads one). She is also said to encourage the players to get off their phones and play games with each other – including one in the hotel pool with inflatable unicorns after the win against Tunisia in the group stages; and she is said to dislike social media, which she expects the players to use wisely. Southgate hasn’t banned social media – unlike previous managers, he hasn’t appeared to ban anything – but has apparently taken Grange’s thoughts on board. While he acknowledged it was good for the players to engage with fans, he added: “Personally, I’m not sure there’s value to reading comments that come in. It comes back to: what creates pressure, or what creates misery in your life?”
The psychological transformation of the team has taken them much further than anyone could have expected at the start of the tournament, and raises the question of what the rest of us can learn from England’s awakening, and from sports psychology more generally. When it comes to life’s penalties and pressure points, Lane suggests thinking of the critical inner voice as “the yobbo in the crowd shouting at you. If you present it that way, [the player] will say: ‘Well, they don’t affect me.’ Sometimes [it helps to] see your own thoughts as a third person and, when they come in, choosing to see them as not relevant.”
The sport performance consultant Andy Barton says: “Often, it’s the spin you put on things.” Emotions can be reframed – as with Alli saying that he was excited rather than nervous. Barton has worked with England players in the past, and they would “talk about the dread of taking a penalty, as if it’s the worst thing you could possibly do. We create this narrative in our heads and live it.” What he thinks the England team have done is to rethink the idea of a penalty from a threat to an opportunity. It helps, he points out, that the team is young and relatively “unsullied by past failures, so [Southgate has] been able to create a more positive narrative. They’re playing with freedom; there’s no fear of failure. Fear is essentially made up because it is a projection into the future, where you have created a narrative of something badly going wrong. We all do it, and we get very good at creating the negative [future] rather than the positive one.”
Michael Caulfield, a sport psychologist and the co-director of the consultancy Sporting Edge, says Southgate, with whom he worked at Middlesbrough, has a leadership style “built on incredible levels of trust between him and his players and staff. He was determined to convince the team there was nothing to fear from playing in the World Cup for England, whereas in the past people were nervous or fearful. He was determined to change that mindset from one of fear to one of adventure. That’s the biggest thing he’s done.”
Simply thinking positive isn’t helpful, says Barton. “If the team just imagined themselves lifting the World Cup, that’s positive thinking but it doesn’t serve any real purpose.” Instead, he says, we should visualise what we need to do to perform, rather than the fantasy result. “The skill is in your application to a task because that’s the bit you’re in control of. Say you have a big presentation to do, or a big event, or job interview – if you’re feeling fear you’re already mentally rehearsing it in a negative way. [In mental rehearsal] you prime your brain to play it how you would like to be. You might want to be confident, speak clearly. It’s not just positive thinking.”
Routines can be useful, he says. “If you watch Harry Kane, if he’s been interrupted [before taking a penalty], he starts again – he picks the ball up and puts it down on the spot and goes through his whole routine again, and that’s something I’ve never seen England players do before. They usually want to get it over with as quickly as possible, but fear causes us to do things that are unhelpful.” Routines, says Barton, help to keep us in the moment, focused and in the right frame of mind.
When someone is under a moment of extreme pressure, using a tactic such as mental cues can be helpful, says Kate Hays, the head of psychology at the English Institute of Sport. “People will have cue words that will bring them back into focus on the task at hand – for some, they could be emotional cues; for others, it could be technically focused. It’s just one or two words that can get people to focus on the right thing.”
In dealing with a negative event, she says, “the reflection component is critical. It allows people time and space to work through that emotionally and be able to go back to what happened, to process it and be able to move on.” We could also learn to view failure as having potentially positive consequences in the long term. “There is some evidence that people have been able to be successful in sport because of previous [adverse] early experiences, not necessarily in sport,” says Hays. “Overcoming difficult situations and building resilience potentially contributes to success.”
Gareth Southgate celebrates with Jordan Henderson after beating Colombia.
Gareth Southgate celebrates with Jordan Henderson after beating Colombia. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA
Southgate, who has experienced his own disappointments – that missed penalty at the semi-finals of Euro 96, and his managerial career at Middlesbrough ending in relegation – has said as much: “I have learned from things that have gone wrong and had to pick myself up … Because of those failures, I feel it gives you the freedom of being able to say, ‘How might we be the best possible team?’ and not be afraid of what goes wrong – because whatever goes wrong we can deal with, as I have lived through it.”
Grange has no fear of failure either. She has written: “I’d like to turn this unhealthy preoccupation with success on its head and put it on the record that I think failure is really useful. For without failure we cannot progress longer, higher or faster. It’s a funny paradox – our successes are achieved through trying, and trying most often ends in failure. Every day in our general lives and our sporting lives we will win some and lose some; it’s just part of the way life should be. It could be missing out on a promotion, being pipped at the line in a running race or bombing out in an exam – it doesn’t matter – the important lesson is to learn from our failures, reassess, rethink, move forward (sometimes in a different direction) and keep those dreams and goals alive.”
Those in a managerial role – or teaching, perhaps, or parenting – may find praise can be more motivational than a telling-off, or allowing someone to dwell on mistakes. Raheem Sterling may have missed a couple of chances in the game against Sweden, but Caulfield says Southgate won’t be focusing on that. “[Sterling is] playing so well and creating mayhem for the opposition defences, so Gareth will be praising that. He won’t be criticising him for missing a chance, he’ll be doing the exact opposite – he’ll be praising him for contributing so much to the team.”
Kevin George, the author of Soccology, who works with clubs and coaches on performance, also says that respecting the individual qualities and personalities of your players (or your employees) is key. “To instil confidence in one player might be to give them freedom, so they know you trust them,” he says. “For somebody else, it might be a lot of praise. For a group of people, you have to tap into who they are individually, but as a group, give them the belief that you trust them.” Singling people out for praise in a group setting can be tricky, he adds. “People can think: ‘That person’s a favourite, I’m not a favourite.’ It is tough.” Southgate doesn’t play favourites; everyone feels as if they have a chance.
The era of hard-talking, tyrannical managers is over – both on and off the pitch. “Football, which I love and work in, is really bad at talking,” says Caulfield. “It does instructing and telling off but it doesn’t do talking and listening and empathy that well. It sounds a bit fluffy but that’s the world in which we now live, and the world in which these players have grown up.” Southgate, he says, realised early in his coaching career that instilling fear wasn’t going to work. “We all need a telling-off now and then – and he’s good at that, by the way – but you’ll get far more from putting your faith in people than you will anything else. People had this lazy opinion that he’s too ‘nice’ and they see kindness as weakness, but it’s the most unbelievable strength if you use it in the right way.”
As for nerves, it is a mistake to think it is essential or even desirable to eliminate them – from sport or from life. Caulfield says they can be “wonderful. They keep you alive and make you realise something important is about to happen. If you discuss what the nerves mean to you and how you deal with them, then they don’t become a threat to you. They become this wonderful cortisol that runs through your veins and you deal with the problem, and then you rest afterwards.” With or without an inflatable unicorn.
Five top tips for success
• Don’t fear failure. “Part of what it takes to be courageous is overcoming the constant battle between the desire for what we want and the fear of failure. Most of us don’t expose ourselves because we are fearful,” writes Grange.
• Reframe emotions: you’re not “nervous”, you’re “excited”; a penalty shootout/job interview/important speech is not something to dread, it’s an “opportunity”.
• Positive thinking is unhelpful if you’re simply fantasising about achieving an Oscar/the World Cup/a fuller social life. Instead, focus – positively – on the steps that could get you to your goal.
• Treat your employees/children/customers as individuals rather than a homogenous group. Different approaches will work for different people.
• Kindness, listening and empathy will take you further than barking orders. Use praise to motivate people.