Hero Hurst recalls historic summer
PUBLISHED: 14:30 14 June 2018
S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport
With the 2018 World Cup finals about to kick-off in Russia, former England and West Ham striker Sir Geoff Hurst has been able to reflect on his own exploits in the competition.
Hurst remains the only player in history to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final, having netted three times against West Germany at Wembley Stadium to see England lift the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1966.
But he admits it was a huge surprise to even be playing for England that summer, saying: “Although I felt I could have a good career at West Ham, playing for England was never on the radar, until the day I was actually selected to play in late 1965.
“I never ever dreamed I’d play for England, I didn’t start the first game and my thoughts even then, I wasn’t disappointed. I was just happy to be sitting on a bench watching, part of an England squad.
“There wasn’t a great deal of pressure on me, I was just happy to be there, so I was coming from a different angle probably more than a senior player who was more aware of the occasion, expected to play like Bobby Charlton, like Jimmy Greaves, like Bobby Moore, like Gordon Banks, who were established world-class international players.
“I was kid, I’d only played two or three games for England before the World Cup, so my attitude was I wasn’t under any kind of pressure, I was just happy to be there, not getting too carried away just looking forward to being part of a great event.”
Hurst came into the side after legendary Tottenham striker Jimmy Greaves suffered an injury in the group stages and netted the winner against Argentina.
And he kept his place in the line-up, despite lots of speculation about a possible return for Greaves, to write his name into the record books.
He added: “I didn’t think I’d play for England at all in the final because the great Jimmy Greaves from Spurs was arguably one of the greatest goalscorers in this country and worldwide.
“Had he not been injured prior to the game against Argentina, I wouldn’t have played, so somewhat unfortunately Jimmy got injured and I came in, but I was ready, my attitude was right and I was ready to play and you take your chance and that’s the same in life.
“In sport your chance comes, I was ready for it, I was young with no pressure and I just thought that. Of course we won the game, a very, very brutal game against Argentina and I finished up scoring the winner from my colleague at West Ham Martin Peters’ fantastic cross.
“Your emotions when you’re there is one of relief that you got through it. The emotions of enjoyment are going to last forever.”
Even now, some 52 years after the greatest day in English football, Hurst admits he remains surprised at what he achieved.
He said: “Looking back at my career with England and what we achieved with the national team, and my life at West Ham, I look back quite a lot now with astonishment.
“I’m a kid, I wasn’t the best player at school, I wasn’t the best player in my district – a guy called Roy Moss was the best player. I wasn’t the best player at West Ham, certainly Bobby Moore was the best player, and I certainly wasn’t the best player with England, with Bobby Charlton, Gordon Banks, Jimmy Greaves.
“Looking back, how your life can change. When you’re in a national squad that went to the World Cup in your country, it does put you within your own different category, because as we know we haven’t achieved it ever since then.”
*Geoff Hurst is supporting Prostate Cancer UK’s Football March for Men which takes place on Sunday July 22. For more information go to: www.prostatecanceruk.org/footballmarch.