The Story Of Pickles And The Stolen World Cup Trophy

The original FIFA World Cup trophy is something that many modern fans may have trouble recognizing. It’s been known as “Victory”, the “World Cup”, the “Coupe De Comde”, and back when it was stolen in 1966—just four months before that year’s FIFA World Cup—it was called the Jules Rimet Trophy. The story of how it was recovered involves Pickles, a mixed breed collie who would become part of sports history.

While on public display at the “Sport with Stamps” exhibition at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, the Jules Rimet Trophy was somehow stolen from its glass cabinet. Despite constant security, the thief was able to walk away with the trophy—forgoing stamps worth over $4,000,000 that were also on display.

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Chelsea F.C. and The Football Association chairman Joe Mears would later receive a call, informing him that a package would be left at the Stamford Bridge. Inside there was a note demanding 15,000 British pounds, as well as the trophy’s lining. Police were able to trace the package back to a man named Edward Betchley, who was operating under the name “Jackson” and claimed he was acting under instruction from someone called “The Pole”. Betchley was arrested and eventually convicted for the ransom demand. No other individual associated with the crime has ever been caught.

The trophy was eventually recovered in an unlikely place by an unexpected investigator. One week after the theft, Thames lighterman David Corbett was out walking with his four-year-old dog, Pickles in a suburb of Upper Norwood in South London. An object wrapped in newspaper below a garden hedge caught Pickles’ attention, and within, Mr. Corbett found the Jules Rimet Trophy.

Though he was suspected of theft for a time, Mr. Corbett’s alibi cleared him of the crime and he and Pickles were honored for the discovery. Both were invited to England’s World Cup celebration banquet, where Pickles was welcomed to share in the spread. He was also awarded a National Canine Defence League silver medal the following year.

The Jules Rimet Trophy would continue to serve as the FIFA World Cup trophy until 1970, when Brazil would be granted permanent ownership. The trophy was stolen again from its display in 1983 and was never recovered. Had it not been 16 years after Pickles had passed on, perhaps the famous dog would have been flown in for another recovery effort. A replica of the trophy was later created and presented to the Brazilian Football Confederation in 1984.

Pickles has laid his own claim on football history; his collar remains on display in the National Football Museum in Manchester. A fictionalized version of Pickles was even portrayed in the 2006 ITV movie “Pickles: The Dog Who Won The World Cup”.

While a trophy may be highly prized by athletes and fans for its significance a victory symbol, sometimes it’s the unusual history behind an award that makes it that much more special. Trophy designs inspired by the Jules Rimet Trophy and the modern day world cup can be easily customized through, where a full selection of soccer and other sporting awards are available.