The Big Interview - Sir Geoff Hurst

No footballer has ever achieved what Sir Geoff Hurst did on 30 July 1966.

That afternoon, the West Ham United forward netted a hat-trick to fire England to a 4-2 FIFA World Cup final victory over West Germany at Wembley Stadium - the only player to do so.

Forty-eight years on Sir Geoff, alongside club-mates Bobby Moore OBE and Martin Peters MBE, remain in a select band of players to have won football's greatest prize for the Three Lions.

Last week, Sir Geoff was at the FA National Football Centre at St George's Park in his role as Director of Football for McDonald's. While there, he dropped in to meet the present-day West Ham squad, including fellow England forward Andy Carroll, Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan and Stewart Downing.

Now 72, Sir Geoff spoke to West Ham TV about his role in promoting grassroots football with McDonald's, Sam Allardyce, Carroll and much more.

Sir Geoff, as always it is an honour to speak to you for West Ham TV. I understand you are at St George's Park to launch the 2014 FA McDonald's Community Awards - what can you tell us about them?

GH: "Yes, it is the nomination time for these awards and they recognise all the grassroots people who give their time to the game, as hundreds of thousands of people do. If you took them away, there would be very little grassroots football. We're asking for nominations for your grassroots hero, so if you would like to do so please visit the website here. As Director of Football for McDonald's, that is something I'm associated with."

Presumably, grassroots football played a part in your development as a player, too?

GH: "Everybody had a grassroots guy and the person who was instrumental in my time was actually a teacher from my primary school called Mr Shepherd. I still have the pictures from when I was seven or eight years of age up to eleven and he was always on the pitch in the early years, standing alongside.

"He was a history teacher and not necessarily technically good at coaching, but what he did was organise us. He made sure we were together and looked smart in the photographs. In fact, for one of our photographs I had forgotten my boots, so he sent me home to get them so the team looked smart. He was instrumental and he also stressed the sportsmanship - not getting too uptight about losing and winning not being everything at that age-group level. I still practice and preach that today.

"He was my grassroots hero - Mr Shepherd."

I understand you are also here at St George's Park to support the McDonald's Cup five-a-side tournament for restaurant staff?

GH: "This is my fourth visit to St George's Park and it is a fantastic place and it is great to see the senior clubs like West Ham using it.

"The McDonald's Cup is in its sixth year and all the McDonald's restaurants in the UK play a five-a-side competition and have qualified to get here. There are 24 teams - 16 men's and eight women's teams - and the winners from here will have the opportunity to go to Germany for a European competition. Those who are successful in Europe will go to Brazil and play over there! It's great for the staff and I've always strongly believed that it's nice to get all the people together in the corporate life.

"What better opportunity to get together at this marvellous facility for some five-a-side football in beautiful weather!"

Sir Geoff Hurst

Sir Geoff Hurst celebrates FIFA World Cup glory in 1966

Talking of the weather, presumably the sunshine reminds you of 30 July 1966?

GH: "It does, but strangely enough it rained in the morning of the World Cup final a little bit, but latterly we always remember it as a very sunny day!"

West Ham are doing well after a difficult period over the Christmas and New Year, which must please you?

GH: "Yes, it's fantastic. I went away at Christmas and we were in the bottom three. During the two months I was away, my wife has an iPad and she checked and we drew at Chelsea. Then we won and won and won again, so I asked her 'Where are we in the league now?' and she said 'Tenth' and I thought 'That will do me!'.

"It's an endorsement of Sam. He has worked at Premier League level and has great experience. At every club, if you take the top six out, they will have a difficult period. If they didn't, they'd be in the top six competing with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool. It's the ability of the terrific managers to turn it around. It's difficult to turn it round when you go a few games without a win, especially like the Nottingham Forest game and the two Manchester City games, which were shocking.

"Sam has great experience and I would say to the fans who do not always think Sam is the right man that to get our squad of players into the realms he has got them last year and this year is a fantastic achievement for a manager.

"I fully endorse Sam's efforts, not that he needs my endorsement particularly, because he is so good at what he does.

"I don't get to Upton Park much because I now live in Cheltenham but I live an hour from Aston Villa and an hour from Stoke and West Brom, so I get to games when I can.

"The important thing for me is that we're in the Premier League in a couple of years' time when we get into that fantastic Olympic Stadium, which I think is a fantastic move for the Club. I have to say publicly, it is a fantastic forward movement for West Ham United."

Fifty years ago this month, you scored as West Ham beat Saturday's opponents Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final on the way to winning the trophy for the first time. The history books show it was a horrible wet day and the match was played on a swamp of a pitch! What are your memories of that game?

GH: "It wouldn't have been played today and it shouldn't have been played then, because the pitch was absolutely shocking at Sheffield Wednesday that day! It was a magnificent day for the Club.

"The history books show that we played Manchester United the week before at West Ham and five or six of their top players weren't playing and they beat us 2-0. Everyone thought it would be a foregone conclusion in the semi-final a week later, so to win 3-1 and score was wonderful.

"Bobby Moore made a goal for me and it just showed the horrendous conditions we played in, which made the game interesting.

"To put it into context of the time, we had not long before come out of the Second Division, where we had been forever. Within six years we'd won the FA Cup and then we won the European Cup Winners' Cup the following year - only the second time an English club had won a European competition.

"Then, as West Ham fans would say, West Ham won the World Cup in 1966. We're standing in the Ron Greenwood Room here at St George's Park and the great man developed players to play at the top level and produced the captain and two goalscorers for that great game. He is probably the greatest coach we have seen and it's fitting that one of the rooms at this great facility is named in honour of Ron."

Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan and Sir Geoff Hurst

Sir Geoff met Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan at St George's Park

Finally, the 2014 FIFA World Cup is three months away now. Among the players hoping to make the England squad is Andy Carroll. Has he got a chance of emulating Martin Peters in 1966 and making a late run for inclusion?

GH: "The answer is quite clearly 'Yes'. Martin Peters is a great example because he didn't play until May 1966 against Yugoslavia only two months before the final. He made a great goal in the quarter-final against Argentina and of course scored our second in the final which would have been the winner if West Germany hadn't equalised in the last minute.

"There is every chance for Andy. I mentioned him recently while doing some media work not because he is a West Ham player, but because we talked about people who have the opportunity.

"There are ten Premier League games to go and if he scores in every game and West Ham continue to rise up the table and he keeps himself fit, he has the chance. Rickie Lambert is a good player and is playing well but if he gets injured, we may be looking for another front player who gives us the option of the high ball and Andy is a difficult player to mark.

"If Andy keeps plugging away, keeps himself fit and he keeps scoring the goals then, no question, he has a real chance of being there."