Sir Geoff Hurst enjoyed a 17-year professional career with West Ham, Stoke City and West Bromich Albion but the England striker will forever be remembered for his iconic hat-trick against West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley.
Born in Ashton-under-Lyne in 1941, Hurst made his England debut in February 1966 and he was included in Sir Alf Ramsey’s 22-strong World Cup squad as a back-up to first-choice strikers Jimmy Greaves and Roger Hunt.
Injury to Greaves in England’s final group game against France handed the West Ham forward his chance in the quarter-finals and Hurst seized his opportunity with aplomb, his glancing header against Argentina ensuring England’s progress to the last four of the competition.
A 2-1 victory over Portugal in the semi-final saw England through and although Greaves had returned to full fitness, Hurst kept his place and he was 120 minutes away from footballing immortality.
West Germany took the lead in the final but Hurst headed England level from Bobby Moore’s free kick after 18 minutes. Ramsey’s side went 2-1 up courtesy of Martin Peters, but the West Germans equalised late on and the game went into extra time.
Hurst’s second was nothing if not controversial. His right-footed shot rattled the cross bar, bounced down and was cleared by the German defence. England claimed the goal, the referee consulted his linesman and to Wembley’s delight, the goal was awarded. Four decades later the debate still rages on whether the ball had crossed the line.
He completed his hat-trick in the 120th minute. West Germany surged forward in search of the equaliser but Moore’s clearance caught them cold and Hurst settled the contest with a fierce left-footed drive that remains arguably the most iconic moment in the history of the English game.
England were crowned world champions and Hurst remains the only player to have scored a hat-trick in a World Cup final.
The West Ham striker went on to play in the 1970 World Cup finals but it is his part in England’s 1966 triumph for which he is lionised. He was knighted in 1998 and six years later inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.
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