Sir Geoff inspires east London youngsters

The West Ham United Foundation welcomed guest of honour Sir Geoff Hurst to the finals of the Barking and Dagenham Schools’ World Cup.

In the week which ends with the 50th anniversary of England’s famous FIFA World Cup triumph of 1966 – clinched thanks to the Hammers striker’s perfect hat-trick – Sir Geoff returned to east London.

The event, which celebrated the achievement of the Borough’s legendary former residents Sir Alf Ramsey, Bobby Moore and Sir Geoff, saw 16 local primary and junior schools represent the nations which competed in England five decades ago.

Sir Geoff watched on as Valence Primary School from Dagenham – representing Switzerland – defeated Five Elms Primary – representing Nigeria – 5-1 in the final to lift the trophy.

The Academy of Football graduate, who netted 24 times for England and scored 249 goals during a sparking career in Claret and Blue, spoke of his pride at returning to the Borough to mark the golden anniversary of his – and England’s – greatest moment.

“Winning the World Cup was such an incredible moment in my life and I am delighted to join the families of Barking and Dagenham to celebrate that achievement 50 years on,” he said.

“This Borough has produced many talented players in the past, including my old friend Bobby Moore.”

Hurst, Dagenham-born Three Lions manager Ramsey and Barking-born and raised captain Bobby Moore combined to inspire the national side to its unrivalled World Cup success.

It was for this reason that Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, thought it important to celebrate 50 years on. 

“Barking and Dagenham played a massive part in England winning the 1966 World Cup and it is important that we continue to celebrate this,” said Rodwell.

“Every child who has participated in the Barking and Dagenham Schools’ World Cup will have dreamt about winning the World Cup for England and it is great to have someone like Sir Geoff, who has done so, joining us at the event.”

Joe Lyons, West Ham United Foundation Chief Executive, said that it was fitting for the Club’s community arm to play its role in such a fitting event.

“It seems only right for the West Ham United Foundation to partner with Barking and Dagenham Council, and the other organisations involved, to deliver a fitting tribute to the community and the momentous occasion in 1966,” said Lyons.

“Hopefully, Sir Geoff Hurst’s achievements can inspire them to reach for the stars and dream of going on to achieve the World Cup in whatever passion they follow in life.”