With Charlton approaching his 30th birthday, he was called up by Alf Ramsey to play for England against Scotland at Wembley. The game ended 2–2 and Charlton was impressive enough to keep his place. With England hosting the 1966 World Cup in just over 12 months' time, the incentive to stay in the side was obvious.
Ramsey chopped and changed other areas of his team as the World Cup neared, but Charlton's partnership at the back with captain Bobby Moore remained a constant. Charlton got his first England goal in a pre-tournament victory over Denmark before Ramsey confirmed his squad of 22 players for the finals. Charlton was in the squad, and was given the No. 5 shirt, an indication that if fit he would be the first choice partner for Moore.
England drew their opening group game against Uruguay 0–0, but progressed to the knock-out stages after victories against Mexico and France. The latter game finished 2–0 with Roger Hunt getting both England goals, one of which came after Charlton, venturing forward to add height to the attack, hit the post with a header. England eliminated Argentina in the quarter finals, taking them to a semi final against Portugal.
Charlton had his work cut out keeping Portugal's Torres quiet, with the centre forward winning his fair share of aerial duels. However, his brother Bobby scored twice to give England a commanding lead, before Eusébio scored a late penalty after Charlton had handled a shot on the goal-line. England clung on and reached the final, where they would play West Germany.
In the final, England beat West Germany 4–2 after extra time to win the World Cup. One of the more memorable images at the final whistle was the sight of Charlton, at 31 the second oldest member of the team, sinking to his knees with his face in his hands, weeping with joy.
Banks had little to do during the second half but his known powers of concentration were required when Jack Charlton gave away a dubious free kick 30 yards from goal. Banks duly organised a defensive wall and got into position. Lothar Emmerich slammed the ball into the wall, the ball ricocheted across goal and Banks struggled to follow it across his six yard box, such was the speed and unpredictability of its movement as it took deflections and swipes. Ultimately German defender Wolfgang Weber reached it at the far post and swept it into the net with Banks diving in vain to get his palms to the ball. The final whistle went seconds later to send the game into extra time.
England took the lead in extra time with that hotly debated second goal from Hurst. Banks not troubled again until the final minute, when he saved a shot from Siggy Held and moments later could only watch as Uwe Seeler lunged for the ball and missed. Hurst then scored his hat-trick goal and the game was over. Banks had 33 England caps and was a world champion. But his career at club level was shortly to take an interesting and unexpected turn.