Hurst to be honoured at Player Awards

Hammers legend Sir Geoff Hurst will be presented with the Club's Lifetime Achievement Award on Tuesday
Sir Geoff Hurst will be honoured at the West Ham United Player Awards on Tuesday when he becomes this year's recipient of the Club's Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by JM Sealants.

Here, the Hammers legends discusses his career in his own words...

I wasn't a big schoolboy player, or one who everyone was chasing. Unbeknown to me, a friend of my father wrote to West Ham and Arsenal. West Ham gave me the opportunity for a trial and I was still a green youngster.

It was in fact first job interview from leaving school. They saw something in me, took me on and of course I went through the ranks and played for the first team. I am still a fan of the Club and they gave me my break and a huge opportunity.

I was struggling between playing cricket and football and was struggling for fitness when one Monday morning at Chadwell Heath, Ron Greenwood came across and said ‘We’re going to try you up front tonight’. We were playing Liverpool and we won 1-0, Tony Scott scored the goal and I was so unfit that when I came off it was like my shorts had been dipped in water!

As it turned out, I played 27 goals and scored 14 goals and if anybody did that today, it would be some sort of sensation. I stayed up front and it was quite remarkable, as in 1962/63 we went to New York for a tournament and I was top goalscorer, then in ’64 we won the FA Cup,’65 the Cup Winners’ Cup and ’66 the World Cup.


So, when I look back, it was quite an astonishing transformation from cricket to being successful at football.

Ron Greenwood was a fantastic coach. He was very forward-thinking. He wasn’t very insular because he looked at coaches and players worldwide.

We had senior players who were keen on coaching like Malcolm Allison and John Bond, who became successful managers. It was a hugely interesting time and it had a huge impact on young players like myself.

From being in the Second Division in the late ‘50s, within a few years we’d won the FA Cup and a European tournament, which very few clubs had done at that stage. It was a fantastic achievement and great years for the Club.

It was no coincidence, because of the quality of those players and Ron, that West Ham produced three players for the England squad – the captain and two goalscorers – and I’d argue that Mooro was the best centre-half we’ve had of that type. He was a fantastic player, a terrific leader and a person to look up to.

The ’64 Cup final at Wembley was a tight game. Preston were in the Second Division, so we were favourites, but we found ourselves 2-1 down. We got a corner, someone flicked it and I dived and headed it and it just went over the line – there was something about me and that sort of thing!

Ronnie Boyce got the winner. He didn’t score that many goals and I always say he came out of a trapdoor in the penalty area.

In 1965, we had the Cup Winners’ Cup final with 1860 Munich and Ron and many others say that was West Ham at their best, as we produced some of the football we had been coached to do. It all happened on the night against a very good German team.

We also beat Sunderland 8-0 in 1968 and I managed to score six goals, which hasn’t been done since. I handled the first one in, but I owned up straight after the game. Mooro and Trevor Brooking scored the other two goals.


On England, I was very surprised when I was first picked because I wasn’t a big player at West Ham like Mooro and Johnny Byrne. However, when a team is doing well, it’s natural that their players are looked at and Alf Ramsey liked to play twin strikers.

Looking back, I suppose I was always a candidate but it was a surprise. Ron Greenwood got me over while we were playing five-a-side at a roller skating rink in Forest Gate and he told me I’d been called up, and I was amazed.

On my debut against West Germany in a friendly in February 1966, it wasn’t sensational but I seemed to do enough to warrant being picked. We won 1-0 and Nobby Stiles got the goal.

When the World Cup started, it looked like it would be Jimmy Greaves and I up front, as I was a little taller than Roger Hunt. I was given No10, Jimmy wore No8 and Roger was given No22. I played not very well in two warm-up games, and Roger scored the winner against Portugal, so Alf started out with Jimmy and Roger.

I didn’t feel overly disappointed as I was just thrilled and happy to be there as part of the World Cup squad.

As a group, we felt we were hard to beat. In the year before the World Cup, we were unbeaten, so the players felt Alf was serious about winning the tournament.

Jimmy suffered a shin injury against France and I came in for the quarter-final against Argentina. It was a shock, but my attitude was that if I got an opportunity, I had to take it.

I got the goal and what was really fulfilling was that it was a West Ham goal and one we’d worked on at Chadwell Heath under the gaze of Ron Greenwood. We had worked on the near-post ball for hours and hours and it was a classic West Ham goal, and one we had practised many times. To achieve it against a world-class team was brilliant.

We beat Portugal in the semi-final, where I played well and set up the winner for Bobby Charlton, and then we faced West Germany in the final at Wembley on 30 July 1966.


I NEVER recall being under any great pressure at the time. I was just happy to be there and I never felt any pressure and that may be why I performed well.

I remember one very key thing. We knew the Germans would play with only one central defensive marker and he marked Roger, and the guy who marked me had played at full-back, so when he came over to me I fancied myself quite strongly because he wasn’t used to marking in central areas.

We got our first goal and I regard it as the best of my hat-trick, because not only was it the equaliser after we’d gone behind, but it was another West Ham goal. We had a philosophy that we’d always take set pieces quickly and we’d practised it. If something was on, use your brain and take it.

We always left space in the middle of the box for the ball to arrive into and you arrive at the same time as the ball. My marker was ten yards away when I headed it!

My second goal is always talked about. It hit the crossbar and from where I was falling the ball came down behind the goalkeeper, so I didn’t see where it had finished! I wanted to believe more than anything in my life that it was over the line – but of course nothing has been proved conclusively!

Finally, we come to the final goal. Mooro hit a great ball from defence to attack. As the ball went in, the referee blew for time, so I didn’t know if the goal had counted! At some stage after the game, I went back outside from the dressing room to look at the scoreboard and it had, as it said ‘England 4 West Germany 2’.

We had great team spirit, friendship and camaraderie and it’s that winning as a group that’s important. Who gets the goals is not important. Personally, for me, being part of that particular winning team far overrides scoring a hat-trick, even if it hasn’t been done since.

I think we were the better team on the day. We thought we’d beat them before and during the game and we did!

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