With the 2014 World Cup less than a week away, we are turning the spotlight on former Rovers players who have appeared in previous tournaments.
Fittingly, we kick off this special series in Brazil – where Bill Eckersley became Rovers’ first World Cup representative in 1950.
The left-back, who played over 400 games for Rovers between 1947 and 1961, was taken to the tournament finals by Walter Winterbottom, despite having never made an international appearance.
Unused in England’s opening two fixtures – a comfortable 2-0 victory over Chile and disappointing 1-0 defeat to the USA – Eckersley made his debut in the final group game against Spain.
Lining up alongside the likes of Alf Ramsey, Jackie Milburn, Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney, England made an early exit from the competition following a narrow 1-0 defeat.
It would still prove to be a memorable match for Eckersley, who made his England bow in front of almost 75,000 fans at the Maracana, a fortnight before his 25th birthday!
Following his return to Rovers, Eckersley continued to give good service for both club and country, collecting 17 caps in total, his final appearance coming in the historic 6-3 defeat to Hungary at Wembley in November 1953 – England’s first defeat by foreign opponents on home soil.
Uruguay went on to lift the coveted trophy, pipping hosts Brazil to top spot in the final round of fixtures.