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Geoff Hurst

Sir Geoffrey Charles Hurst, MBE (born 8 December 1941 in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire) is a former footballer of West Ham and England, enshrined in the game's history as the only player to have scored a hat-trick in a World Cup final. His three goals came in the 1966 final for England in their 4-2 win over West Germany at Wembley. Such an achievement was made all the more remarkable by the fact that he was only five months and eight games into his international career, and was not considered his country's premier centre forward.

Early career

Hurst was born in the Lake Hospital Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, but moved with his family to Chelmsford, Essex, at the age of eight. He attended Kings Road Primary School, where a house is now named after him. The son of a lower-division footballer, Hurst's own footballing career began when he was apprenticed to West Ham United. When he was scouted for West Ham United, he played for a Sunday team in the Tandridge League (Surrey area), Chipstead.

Hurst was initially a strong-running midfielder but was converted to a centre forward by manager Ron Greenwood. West Ham won the FA Cup in 1964 with Hurst scoring the second equaliser in a tight and exciting 3-2 victory at Wembley. A year later, Hurst was back at Wembley for the final of the European Cup Winners Cup against 1860 Munich, and West Ham won 2-0. The following season he was in the West Ham side which lost the League Cup final on aggregate to West Bromwich Albion, and in February 1966 he was given his debut for England by manager Alf Ramsey.

Hurst played one first-class cricket match for Essex, against Lancashire at Aigburth in 1962, although it was not a successful outing: he made 0 not out in the first innings, and was bowled by Colin Hilton, again for 0, in the second. However, he appeared 23 times in the Essex Second XI between 1962 and 1964, before concentrating entirely on football.

1966 World Cup campaign

Hurst settled into international football quickly but as the World Cup approached, it seemed clear that his inclusion in Ramsey's squad of 22 would merely be as a different option to the first choice partnership of Jimmy Greaves and Roger Hunt. Greaves and Hunt were indeed picked for the three group games against Uruguay, Mexico and France, but in the latter game, Greaves suffered a deep gash to his leg which required stitches, and Hurst was called up to take his place in the quarter final against Argentina. With captain Bobby Moore and young midfielder Martin Peters already in the side, it completed a trio of West Ham players selected by Ramsey at this most crucial stage of the competition.

Argentina were talented but preferred a violent approach to the game, which saw them reduced to ten men. The game was still tightly contested as it entered its final 15 minutes, but then Peters swung over a curling cross from the left flank and Hurst, anticipating his clubmate's thinking, got in front of his marker to glance a near post header past the Argentine keeper. England won 1-0 and were in the semi finals.

Greaves was not fit for the game against Portugal so Hurst and Hunt continued up front, and England won 2-1 thanks to a brace from Bobby Charlton, the second of which was set up by Hurst. As the final against the Germans approached, the media learnt of Greaves' return to fitness and, while appreciating Hurst's contribution, started to call for the return of England's most prolific centre forward.

Ramsey, however, would not be swayed. Hurst had played well enough to keep his place and, with substitutes still disallowed in competitive football, Greaves' hopes of taking part in the final were dashed. Ramsey informed Greaves and Hurst of his decision the day before the game, and would be conclusively vindicated.

The World Cup Final

West Germany took the lead through Helmut Haller early on, but six minutes later Moore was fouled just inside the German half of the field. He quickly picked himself up and delivered the free kick to Hurst, totally unmarked in his run, as the Germans regrouped. The goalkeeper seemed frozen as the header thundered past him, levelling the match. In the second half, chances went begging for both sides before England won a corner on the right with a quarter of an hour left on the clock. Alan Ball took it, outswinging the ball to Hurst on the edge of the area. Hurst turned to shoot and the ball deflected high into the air, looping down on to the right boot of Peters, who smashed it home.

The Germans equalised with virtually the last kick of the game, forcing extra time. The subsequent 30 minutes would shape the rest of Hurst's life. In the first period, Ball flicked a pass inside to Hurst in the penalty box who struck a strong shot towards goal with his right foot, falling backwards as he did so. The ball beat the goalkeeper, hit the crossbar and bounced down before Wolfgang Weber, scorer of the Germans' second goal, headed it out for a corner. England's players claimed a goal; the Germans were just as adamant that the ball had not fully crossed the line. The referee Gottfried Dienst, unsure, decided to consult his linesman, Tofik Bakhramov, on the right flank, who had waved his flag to get the official's attention. The Soviet linesman signalled that the ball had crossed the line, and the goal was given. The Germans were furious and protested with the linesman vociferously, but because the linesman spoke only Russian, Turkish and Azeri, that was a pointless exercise. Ever since, football reporters and commentators on England games have called in jest for a "Russian linesman" (although actually Bakhramov was from Azerbaijan) whenever there has been a contentious decision to make, especially when that decision has not gone England's way.

Advances in technology have never conclusively proved that the ball crossed the line and generally support the opposite view, but Bakhramov was insistent at the time and continued to justify his decision in the decades to come until his death. For his part, Hurst never saw the ball bounce down because his momentum on shooting had taken him backwards on to the Wembley turf. However, he always believed the ball was in the net because of Hunt's reaction – the Liverpool striker was following in as the ball hit the bar and turned to celebrate a goal instead of trying to knock the rebound into the net. Hurst's argument was that a natural goalscorer such as Hunt would have put the ball into the net himself had he been in any doubt.

It looked like a 3-2 win for England with Hurst as the hero with the winning goal but in the last seconds, as the Germans were pushing everyone forward to seek the equalizer, Moore cleared his lines with a long ball over the German defence. While spectators ran on the field, Hurst ran on towards the goal, stating later that he intended just to blast it as far away as he could to eat away valuable seconds. He did rather better than that – the left-foot shot flew into the net at the near post, completing a stunning victory and a hat-trick which remains unique to this day. The referee allowed the goal despite the spectators on the field, and there was no time for the Germans to restart the match.

Hurst still emerged the hero of the win but, as a result of the third goal, became an icon of world football too.

It is stated often that Hurst's hat-trick is technically a "perfect hat-trick", as he scored with his head, right foot and left foot. Others feel this is contentious, as he score a disputed goal. It is not a "flawless hat-trick" as this has to be scored in one half of the game.

Last minute

The referee had put his whistle to his lips as Moore shaped to play the final pass to Hurst. He didn't blow it, however, yet some supporters misheard, assumed the game was complete and started invading the pitch. As Hurst collected the pass, BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme immortalised his own contribution to the day with the most famous piece of football commentary ever:

Hurst was immediately jumped on by Alan Ball, the only other player upfield at the time Moore played the pass. Meanwhile, cameras quickly snapped a bemused-looking Greaves in his suit and tie on the England bench, amazed at the achievements of the man who had replaced him. Greaves would later say it was an emotional reaction but he was just as thrilled for Hurst and England as the other squad players who had not been picked for the final.

After the match

It wasn't until the celebratory banquet that evening that Hurst realised he had scored a hat-trick, assuming that the final whistle had been blown before he'd struck the ball into the net for his third goal. This meant he had not attempted to get the match ball as a souvenir, which hat-trick scorers traditionally do. Haller, scorer of the Germans' first goal, acquired the ball and was seen holding it as he collected his runner's up medal. He returned it to England more than 30 years later.

The media were desperate to speak one-on-one with Hurst and they found him the day after the final, back home in London. As if to prove that life had to go on, Hurst was carrying out the mundane task of mowing his lawn when the journalists turned up.

Continuing international career

Hurst continued to play and score for England, and although he won no further honours with West Ham or England in the 1960s he still maintained his England place for much of the period; for the 2-3 seasons immediately after 1966 he was an internationally renowned striker and goalscorer.

Hurst was named in the Ramsey squad which played in Mexico to defend the World Cup in 1970. He scored the only goal of England's opening game against Romania as England progressed to the quarter finals, where once again they faced West Germany. Hurst played a part in a goal for Peters which put England 2-0 up, but the Germans forced their way back and won 3-2 after extra time.

In 1972, West Ham reached the semi final of the League Cup when they played Stoke City over two legs. In the home leg for West Ham, they were awarded a penalty which Hurst took. He powerful shot into the top corner was saved by Stoke goalkeeper and Hurst's international team-mate Gordon Banks, who succeeded in deflecting the ball over the bar. Stoke won the tie and ultimately the competition. Hurst left West Ham to join them later the same year for £75,000. He had played one game short of 500 for West Ham, during which time he had scored 252 goals.

His England career ended the same year with yet another game against West Germany, in the qualification stages for the 1972 European Championships, which England lost. He had won 49 caps and scored 24 goals, currently putting him 11th in the all-time England scorers' list.

His final years as a player

Manchester United had a bid of £200,000 rejected for Hurst on 18 June 1968. Hurst wound down his career with Stoke City and also West Bromwich Albion. He then signed for the Seattle Sounders of the NASL in 1976. Unlike many players who came over to the NASL from Europe to end their careers, Hurst rapidly proved his worth, and became a valuable member of the Sounders team. He was the team’s second-leading scorer, helping the Sounders make it to the playoffs for the first time in their brief history, with 8 goals and 4 assists in 23 regular season games, and 1 goal in the playoffs. More important than Hurst’s numbers was his sense of timing: not only did he score the first (in the home opener against Portland) and the last (in the playoffs against Vancouver) goals of the season, 5 of his 8 goals were game-winners. After Seattle, Hurst played in Kuwait and signed for Cork Celtic in January 1976.

Post-playing career

Upon his retirement from playing, Hurst moved into management and coaching. He was assistant to his ex-West Ham boss Ron Greenwood after the latter took over the England job in 1977, player-manager of Telford United and manager of Chelsea from 1979-81. He joined Chelsea, then in the Second Division, before the 1979-80 season, initially as assistant manager to Danny Blanchflower. When Blanchflower was sacked, Hurst was appointed manager. Things initially went well, and for much of the season Chelsea were on course for promotion, but two wins from their final seven league games ensured the club finished 4th. The following season again began well, with the Blues among the early promotion pace-setters before a dismal run set in, with Chelsea scoring in just three of their final 22 league matches, culminating in Hurst being sacked in April 1981.

In 1975 Hurst was decorated with the MBE. In later years, Hurst became a successful businessman, working in the insurance industry. He also became much in demand as a pundit and a motivational speaker. In 1998 he was knighted. He is currently Director of Football for McDonald's fast food chain.

Legacy

England fans claim that the name and achievement of Geoff Hurst remains unique in global football, while others point out that he scored only one undisputed goal at full time, plus two controversial ones in extra time.

Since 1966, only three players have come close to emulating Hurst's hat-trick in a World Cup final. Mario Kempes of Argentina in 1978, Zinedine Zidane for France in 1998 and Ronaldo for Brazil in 2002 all scored two goals in World Cup finals but did not manage a third.

Hurst's contribution to the English game was recognised in 2004 when he was inducted in the English Football Hall of Fame. Hurst is also one of the few footballers who have been knighted, and this recognises his contribution to the game.

In popular culture, a shot bouncing off the crossbar and hitting the line is referred to as a "Geoff Hurst style shot" if no goal is given, or a "Geoff Hurst style goal". An example of that is David Trezeguet (of Juventus's) penalty against Italy in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final when it went to penalties. As he shot, the ball smacked the bar, and in similar circumstances it was not clear if it crossed the line.

Managerial stats

Team Nat From To Record
G W L D Win %
Chelsea September 13 1979 April 30 1981

79 35 26 18 44.30

Honours

Statistics

1959-60 West Ham United First Division 3 0 1960-61 6 0 1961-62 24 1 1962-63 27 13 1963-64 37 14 1964-65 42 17 1965-66 39 23 1966-67 41 29 1967-68 38 19 1968-69 42 25 1969-70 39 16 1970-71 39 15 1971-72 34 8 1972-73 Stoke City First Division 38 10 1973-74 35 12 1974-75 35 8 1975-76 West Bromwich Albion Second Division 10 2 1976 Seattle Sounders NASL 24 9 529 212 24 9 553 221

References

External links

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