In Brief

Mystery behind 1966 World Cup trophy theft finally solved

Gangster Sidney Cugullere and his brother Reg snatched Jules Rimet prize from exhibition, says Reg’s son

A London gangster and his brother were behind the mysterious theft of the World Cup trophy shortly before the 1966 tournament in England, it has been claimed.

Sidney and Reg Cugullere snatched the famed Jules Rimet trophy from a display case at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, according to Reg’s son, Gary.

The theft, on 20 March 1966, “led to one of the biggest investigations in Scotland Yard’s history”, says the London Evening Standard.

Three days after stealing the trophy, Sidney sent a typed ransom note to Chelsea Football Club demanding £15,000 for its return. However, the plan went wrong when his go-between, a former docker called Ted Betchley, was arrested following a police sting. He was later jailed for two years over the theft.

The trophy was discovered by a dog named Pickles in a hedge in Norwood, south London, a week after it was taken - but the identity of the thief had remained a mystery until now.

Gary told the Daily Mirror: “Sidney just nicked it for the thrill, not for financial gain, but just because it was so easy.” 

He added that Reg had also been in the hall at the time of the theft but had not seen Sidney take the cup. 

“On the street after coming out of the doors, Sid lifted his jacket and said, ‘Here you are, Reg, look at this.’ He opened one side of his jacket and the World Cup was there,” Gary claimed.

Another, unnamed source told the newspaper: “Many a time Sid would say he was the first Englishman to lift the World Cup in 1966 and that he did it before Bobby Moore.

“He was an opportunist and the stealing of the Cup was just that. He didn’t have any inside information or help from the guards. It was spur of the moment.”

Gary says that following Betchley’s arrest, his father was “freaking out” and knew “there was no way they could sell the cup”.

“They realised they had to give it back,” he added.

Sidney died in 2005, while Reg passed away in 2012.

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