Happy birthday Sir Geoff Hurst!
With 249 goals for West Ham United, three Hammer of the Year awards and still the only man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final, there are not many individuals who have enjoyed as glittering careers in the Claret and Blue as Sir Geoff Hurst, who celebrates his 77th birthday today.
Emerging from the famous Academy of Football during a golden age for local stars, Sir Geoff made his first senior appearance for the Irons in December 1958, against Fulham, and was offered professional terms four months later. A first competitive showing was given to Hurst in February 1960, as injuries forced manager Ted Fenton’s hand.
After an indifferent showing at centre-back, and a brief move to left-back, Hurst considered switching his main focus to cricket, but the belief of new boss Ron Greenwood in his ability, who switched Sir Geoff to a striker, saw him flourish. Thirteen goals followed in 27 First Division games in the 1962/63 season. Hurst had found his role, as 25 in all competitions the next campaign confirmed.
The 1963/64 season saw West Ham United win their first ever piece of major silverware, the FA Cup, and Sir Geoff played a crucial role in bringing the illustrious trophy to the Boleyn Ground. The forward played in all seven FA games, scoring seven goals, including a crucial equaliser in the Final against Preston North End, as the Hammers claimed a 3-2 win.
The following campaign, Hurst helped West Ham win the European Cup Winners Cup, but it was the 1965/66 season that Sir Geoff really displayed his prowess in front of goal. The forward netted 40 goals in 59 competitive games, helping the Irons to reach the League Cup final.
It was that summer that Hurst would become a household name across England, leading the line for the Three Lions at the 1966 World Cup. Having been on the bench for the group stages, Hurst was named in the starting XI against Argentina in the quarter-finals. The West Ham man would head home the only goal of the game.
Sir Geoff retained his place for the semi-final against Portugal, providing the assist for Bobby Charlton’s winning effort. Despite media calls to reinstate Jimmy Greaves to the starting XI, Alf Ramsey stuck with Hurst, and what a decision it proved to be. Hurst would score three times – the only ever World Cup final hat-trick – as England beat West Germany 4-2 and claimed their only World Cup title to date.
Hurst continued his fine goalscoring form in the 1966/67 campaign, finding the net 35 times. He would put six past Sunderland in October 1968 – a record he holds jointly with Vic Watson.
Hurst's efforts saw him win the Hammer of the Year award in 1966, 1967 and 1969, with only four players winning the honour more times than the striker. With at least 15 goals in every season for the Irons since his conversion to a striker, only Watson can boast a higher goal tally for the Irons.
Hurst departed for Stoke City in 1972, but his career in Claret and Blue will never be forgotten; a legacy that will endure forever.
Happy birthday Sir Geoff!