Sir Geoff Hurst
Full name: Sir Geoffrey Charles Hurst
Date of birth: 08/12/1941
“They think it’s all over… it is now!” These few words, spoken by commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme, have become immortalised in English football. They relate, of course, to Sir Geoff Hurst, and his final goal in the 1966 World Cup Final.
Hurst was born in 1941 in Ashton-Under-Lyne, Lancashire. At the age of eight, Hurst’s family moved to Chelmsford, Essex. This was to be the place where Hurst’s career developed.
Hurst’s early development as a footballer is partly down to his Father, a lower-division footballer whom he looked up to as a youngster.
Hurst first played for his primary school, Kings Cross and then went on to play for a Sunday side, Chipstead. It was playing for Chipstead which led to West Ham scouting the young Geoff Hurst. In 1959, aged 18, he turned professional.
Football or Cricket?
It has been said that some people are born with all the talent, and that was certainly the case for Geoff Hurst. During his early days as a West Ham player, he also represented the Essex County Cricket side. Hurst made only one first class appearance and several second XI appearances. In 1964 Hurst decided to hang up his bat and focus solely on his football. Following this decision Hurst’s football career underwent a dramatic change in fortunes.
West Ham United
After signing professional terms with the Hammers in 1959, Hurst became an ever present player in West Ham’s starting eleven. He spent thirteen years at Upton Road, making 411 appearances and scoring 180 goals.
In his first few years as a West Ham player, Hurst played in central midfield. When Ron Greenwood took over though, he converted Hurst to the position of centre-forward for which he is known today.
1964 saw Hurst record his first honour as a footballer when he was among the scorers as West Ham won 3-2 at Wembley. The following year, Hurst once again featured at Wembley as West Ham lifted the European Cup Winners Cup. The Hammers beat 1860 Munich 2-0. Hurst would never again win a domestic trophy, but international honours were just around the corner.
February ’66 saw Hurst receive his first international call up. Little did Hurst know just how quickly his England career would progress.
Hurst was named in the 22-man World Cup squad for the finals in England. As the group games progressed though, it became evident that Hurst was not in Alf Ramsey’s plans. Jimmy Greaves and Roger Hunt were favoured, and they started all three group games. In the final group game against France, Greaves picked up an injury and it was this that led to Hurst’s inclusion in the knockout stages, as England progressed to the final.
Greaves returned from injury for the final but Ramsey refused to be swayed by the English public and opted for Hurst to partner Hunt up front. In 1966 substitutes were not allowed and so Greaves was to play no part in the World Cup Final.
Ramsey’s decision quickly paid dividends as Hurst levelled, following West Germany’s early opener. Fellow Hammer Martin Peters put England ahead, before the Germans forced extra-time at Wembley.
The first period of extra time saw Hurst smash a shot against the bar; the ball bounced down and was headed away by a German defender. The linesman, however, signalled that the ball had crossed the line. Amidst controversial circumstances, the referee allowed the goal to stand. As the Germans pushed for an equaliser late on, a long clearance over the top from Bobby Moore found Hurst. Hurst’s left foot shot flew into the net, leaving Wolstenholme to utter those famous words.
To this day, Hurst is still the only player to have scored a hat-trick in a World Cup Final although some people dispute this fact since Hurst’s hat-trick goal was scored in extra-time.
Post West Ham
Manchester United are rumoured to have bid £200,000 for Hurst in 1968, but West Ham rejected the bid. Hurst eventually left the bright lights of London in 1972 and headed for Stoke where he spent three years playing for Stoke City. During his time at City he made 108 appearances, netting 30 times. Following his spell with Stoke City, Hurst stayed in the Midlands, moving to West Bromwich Albion. A brief season with the Baggies was followed by a move to the United States. Hurst spent just one season in America, where he played for Seattle Sounders. Following 9 goals in 24 appearances, Hurst spent time in Kuwait and then with Cork City. He retired as a player in 1976. Looking back on his career, it is evident that Hurst never matched the highs at any of the clubs he played for, following his days as a West Ham player.
Like so many ex-professional players, upon his retirement, Hurst moved into coaching. Danny Blanchflower brought Hurst in as his assistant manager at Chelsea in the 1979-80 season. Blanchflower was sacked months later and Hurst stepped into the hot seat. Hurst spent two seasons in charge of the then, Second Division Chelsea. In both seasons, Chelsea made great starts but both times failed to gain promotion. In April 1981, Hurst was sacked and following his dismissal from Chelsea, never took charge of another team.
Hurst was decorated in 1975 with an MBE for his World Cup winning hat-trick. More recently in 1998 he was knighted Sir Geoff Hurst, by the Queen.
Hurst has since been involved in business, particularly in the insurance industry. He is currently Director of Football for McDonalds, the fast food chain. Hurst has also been greatly in demand as a motivational speaker and a pundit, although less so in recent years.
Sir Geoffrey Charles Hurst is married and has three daughters. He lives in Weybridge in Surrey.
- 1959: First Professional Contract
- 1964: FA Cup Winner
- 1965: European Cup Winners Cup Winner
- 1966: World Cup Winner
- 1975: Awarded MBE
- 1998: Knighted Sir Geoff Hurst.
- Awarded an MBE: 1975
- Knighted as Sir Geoff Hurst: 1998
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