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What it takes to win the World Cup

It’s the ultimate test of teamwork – a month-long celebration of cooperation, collaboration and solidarity kicking off in Moscow on June 14. 44’s Bryan Jones, Senior Project Manager, looks at what it takes to be a high-performing team – and win the World Cup.

Despite all the diving and cheating, the corruption, sexism, racism and homophobia – and the deep depression that is José Mourinho – football somehow remains the beautiful game.

And next week the ultimate celebration of kicking-a-bag-of-leather-with-some-wind-in-it begins, when the curtain is raised on the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Thirty-two teams will battle it out for the glory of making history and lifting the coveted trophy. And what will the winning team have that the others didn’t? What are some of the secrets of high-performing teams?

They have strong leadership

For England it all started in 1966, with Captain Sensible Bobby Moore and manager Alf Ramsey – who had all the charisma of a shin pad but turned out to be a tactical genius.

Bobby was the man they all followed on the field – while Sir Alf laid down the law off it.

And what a partnership they were, leading England to the most memorable of victories against West Germany, at a time when the only other things in the country to get excited about were the Ford Cortina and The Beatles.

They trust each other

Four years later, England headed to Mexico to defend the famous Jules Rimet Trophy. But even before they arrived, Captain Bobby was making the headlines again – but this time for allegedly getting his hands on something precious that wasn’t his.

We were shocked to hear our Golden Boy had been slung in jail for lifting a golden bracelet in Colombia.


It was akin to hearing Queen Elizabeth had been caught in her bra and pants in bed, smoking a joint with Mick Jagger.

But the nation never wavered in its trust of our Bobby – Ramsey expressed his own belief in his captain. “I should have thought that the integrity of this man would be enough to answer these charges,” he said. “It’s too ridiculous for words.”

They’re willing to take risks – even if they sometimes don’t work out

As it turned out, Brazil were crowned champions of the world in 1970 – and as a team they are arguably the best ever.

They had some amazingly skilled players, and by far the best footballer on the planet in Pelé. He was almost unstoppable – but wasn’t averse to doing things a little differently when the mood took him. This was one of my favourite moments from the 1970 World Cup – you could argue that Pelé should simply have knocked the ball in… but where would the artistry be in that?

They watch each other’s backs

Fast forward 20 years to one of England’s many heroic failures – but one that will always be remembered fondly at Italia ’90: Gazza’s tears.

It wasn’t a year when England’s team looked particularly strong until a baby-faced 23-year-old called Paul Gascoigne took his place in the starting line-up and added a touch of genius.

What was noticeable was how the rest of the team rallied round to look after the wayward star – especially when an ill-judged tackle on West Germany’s Thomas Berthold led to a yellow card – and a ban from the final if England had gone through.

High performing teams don’t repeat the same mistakes…

Enough said.

… but they do know how to celebrate success

The England football team hasn’t had too much to shout about when it comes to World Cup successes over the past few years. A 0-0 draw against Costa Rica was the best we could muster in 2014.

But the top teams know how to revel in it when times are good – you learn how to win and what a good feeling it is to be the best.

On that note, I’ll leave you with Brandi Chastain’s iconic celebration from the Women’s World Cup in 1999.

Here at 44 we hope you enjoy the World Cup this year – however your team performs.

Leave a message and let us know what you think of this blog, who you’ll be supporting when the tournament kicks off, what you do to make sure your teams are high performers, and how you celebrate your big wins.

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