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‘World Cups are won by all 23’

sports Updated: Jun 16, 2010 01:51 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times
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To ask a 69-year-old man whether it went in may not seem proper but Geoff Hurst doesn't seem to mind. His eyes light up at the question.

"I can't believe that you asked me this," he said with the seriousness of a stand-up comedian. "It did. We all live by our beliefs and this is mine. The Germans had equalised at 2-2 and it was a big blow. Nothing is ever shown to suggest that the ball hadn't crossed the line. I saw my striking partner Roger Stewart raise his hand. He thought it went in otherwise he would have chased the ball. His instinctive reaction made me believe that it was in," said Hurst, scorer of the only hattrick in a World Cup final.

The issue of the World Cup's most debatable goal settled, Hurst was lobbed another contentious issue by HT and again the knight ("call me Geoff, only my children call me Sir Geoffrey") was unfazed.

Hurst said he didn't know that England goalie David James had said the 1966 final was "rubbish" but that if the Cup winners were to play Fabio Capello's team, it would be very close. "I would say 1-1. Only that most of us are 70. And you can only compare the teams if they win it."

"I don't go along with it (James' comment) generally. We played in our time with as much aggression and physical fitness. And remember, tackle from behind was then allowed," Hurst, speaking here on the sidelines of a McDonalds programme said.

Talking about another debatable strike, one from the hand of Thierry Henry, Hurst again spoke of doing things instinctively. "I know I've been guilty of doing that. I once scored six goals in a game and one of them was with my hand. But I said I was sorry afterwards. I've scored some perfectly good goals which referees have disallowed.

"Henry too apologised and though I am very disappointed for the Irish, I think we should move on. The difference between that and another handball goal that hurt us in 1986 was that, forget being contrite, he said it was the 'Hand of God.'

Hurst accepted that the absence of Rio Ferdinand and his central defensive partnership with John Terry could be a problem for England but said "World Cups are not won by one or two or 11 players. It is won by all 23. It is camaraderie and friendship that makes a squad tick. Injuries are part and parcel of the game.

"And who knows Michael Dawson (Ferdinand's replacement) might just turn out to be a star. I am a great example of someone who came on late. Martin Peters too. The only player England can't do without is Wayne Rooney," he said.