Happy 78th birthday West Ham United and England legend Sir Geoff Hurst!
With 249 goals for West Ham United, three Hammer of the Year awards, FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup winners' medals and a FIFA World Cup final hat-trick to his name, Sir Geoff Hurst enjoyed a unique career full of incredible achievements.
Sir Geoff, who turns 78 today, is and will forever be one of the most famous English footballers to have ever lived, inspiring club and country to successes that they have yet to repeat.
Emerging from the famous Academy of Football during its first golden age, Sir Geoff made his first senior appearance for the Irons in December 1958, in a Southern Floodlit Cup win over Fulham, and was offered professional terms four months later.
A First Division debut arrived in February 1960, as injuries forced manager Ted Fenton’s hand, in a 3-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest.
After an indifferent showing at centre-back that day, and a brief move to left-back, Hurst considered switching his main focus to cricket. He played one County Championship match for Essex in 1962, and continued to feature semi-regularly as a wicketkeeper in the years that followed.
But the belief of new boss Ron Greenwood in his ability, who switched Sir Geoff to a striker, saw him flourish on the football pitch. Thirteen goals followed in 27 First Division games in the 1962/63 season. Hurst had found his role, as 25 strikes in all competitions the next campaign confirmed.
The 1963/64 season saw West Ham win their first 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 ties, scoring seven goals, including a crucial equaliser in the final against Preston North End, as the Hammers claimed a 3-2 win thanks to Ronnie Boyce's last-gasp header.
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, netting 40 in 59 competitive games and helping the Irons to reach the League Cup final.
It was that summer that Hurst would become a household name, leading the line for the Three Lions at the 1966 FIFA World Cup finals. 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 club record he holds jointly with Vic Watson to this day.
Hurst's efforts saw him win the Hammer of the Year award in 1966, 1967 and 1969. With at least 15 goals in every season for the Irons since his conversion to a striker, only Watson can boast a higher overall goal tally for the Irons, with 326.
Hurst departed for Stoke City in 1972, but his career in Claret and Blue will never be forgotten; a legacy that will forever endure.
Happy birthday Sir Geoff!