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Hurst burst: A case of an accidental striker

sports Updated: May 29, 2010 23:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Geoff Hurst's story has all the ingredients of the perfect World Cup recipe. The surprise selection who goes to the tournament with people saying he shouldn't, only to emerge from the shadows as the hero of the home fans.

The only man to score a hattrick in a World Cup final, Hurst's goals throughout the 1966 carried England all the way to a victory on home soil.

Regarded as little more than an average footballer for years, Hurst had been a borderline inclusion in Alf Ramsey's England squad, having only made his international debut five months before the finals. Born in Lancashire in 1941, he had turned professional with West Ham in 1959, where his career was carefully nurtured by Ron Greenwood.

Making full use of Hurst's natural attributes — a strong build, height, a powerful shot and an excellent heading ability - Greenwood converted Hurst from wing-half into a centre-forward.

Left out of three first round matches, he was thrust into a starting role in the quarterfinals against Argentina after an injury to Greaves. A fine-headed winner against the Argentines took England into the semifinals, where Hurst again proved a handful in the win over Portugal.

Playing too well for Ramsey to drop him in favour of the fit-again Greaves, Hurst led the line against West Germany in the final at Wembley.

His first goal, another fine-headed effort, levelled the scores at 1-1. Hurst's second effort, however, which put England 3-2 up in extra-time, is among the most controversial goals ever at the World Cup. Hurst's striking partner Roger Hunt threw up his arms in celebration, but there was a nervous wait until the linesman confirmed to the referee that the goal should stand.

Most neutrals agree it was a harsh decision on Germany. Hurst, however, maintains to this day that the goal was legitimate.