Stars from England and Germany return to Wembley for World Cup final reunion

The stadium has changed, and so have the waistlines. Most of the stars of the 1966 World Cup final including Franz Beckenbauer, Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst returned to Wembley on Tuesday to mark the 40th anniversary of England 's 4-2 victory over Germany . With the giant arch and Twin Towers long gone, Wembley is being rebuilt into a new national soccer stadium. Due to repeated delays, however, it won't be ready as originally scheduled for the FA Cup final in May.

While the new structure looks nothing like the 100,000-capacity venue that staged the 1966 final, memories of that game flooded back as players from both teams donned hard hats for a tour of the site.

Although England captain Bobby Moore died of cancer at age 51 in 1993, Charlton, Hurst, George Cohen, Alan Ball, Gordon Banks, Jack Charlton, Roger Hunt and Martin Peters teamed up again to meet their German counterparts.

Beckenbauer was joined by Helmut Haller, Siegfried Held, Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, Willi Schulz, Uwe Seeler, Wolfgang Weber, Horst-Dieter Hoettges and goalkeeper Hans Tilkowski.

"The players have been looking forward to getting back together in our 40th anniversary year," said Cohen, who was England 's rightback. "Obviously, we have all kept in touch since '66 but it is a delight to have the German team come to London on an official visit and to be able to visit the new Wembley."

The '66 game is regarded as one of the all-time great finals. The Germans got a late equalizer from Weber to force extra time, with Hurst scoring twice to win the trophy for England . It was England 's first and only World Cup title; Germany has won three.

Hurst is still the only player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final although the goal he scored to put England 3-2 up is still hotly disputed by the Germans who say the ball never crossed the line.

One of the linesmen at the game, Karol Galba from Slovakia , also was at Wembley on Tuesday. The two officials involved in the Hurst goal Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst and Soviet linesman Tofik Bakhramov died in the 1990s.

The players also attended a reunion dinner at the Tower of London on Monday and were due to go to receptions at 11 Downing Street , the office of Treasury Chief Gordon Brown, and the German Embassy, reports the AP.

D.M.