Wednesday 08 Dec
Updated Wednesday 08 Dec 08:00
History

Happy 80th birthday West Ham United and England legend Sir Geoff Hurst!

Sir Geoff Hurst in action

 

With 249 goals, three Hammer of the Year awards, FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup winner's medals and a FIFA World Cup final hat-trick to his name, Sir Geoff Hurst enjoyed a unique career full of incredible achievements for West Ham United and England. 

Sir Geoff, who celebrates turning 80 on Wednesday 8 December, 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.

 

Geoff Hurst
John Sissons and fellow final goalscorer Sir Geoff Hurst parade the FA Cup in May 1964

 

But the belief of new new manager Ron Greenwood in his natural ability and strength saw Sir Geoff switched to a new role as a centre-forward. The move saw him flourish almost immediately.

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, 1963/64, confirmed. 

That season saw West Ham win their first piece of major silverware, the FA Cup, and Sir Geoff played a crucial role in bringing the trophy from Wembley Stadium to the Boleyn Ground. He started all seven FA ties, scoring seven goals, including a crucial second 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. 

While West Ham would lose to West Bromwich Albion in that final, Sir Geoff would not be denied.

For it was that summer of 1966 that he 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, where the West Ham man would head home the only goal of the game.

 

Geoff Hurst
The late Martin Peters and Bobby Moore hold the Jules Rimet Trophy with Sir Geoff Hurst

 

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, manager Alf Ramsey stuck with the West Ham man, and what a decision it proved to be!

Sir Geoff would score three times – the first and only World Cup final hat-trick in history – as England beat West Germany 4-2 and claimed their only World Cup title to date. 

Having written his name into football folklore, Sir Geoff 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. 

The Chelmsford-raised striker'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 to Sir Geoff's 249. 

He departed for Stoke City in 1972 and rounded out his playing career with West Bromwich Albion, Cork Celtic and Seattle Sounders, before a short spell in management and moving into the insurance industry.

 

Sir Geoff Hurst unveiled a statue paying tribute to our heroes of 1965 in September this year
Sir Geoff Hurst unveiled a statue paying tribute to our heroes of 1965 in September this year

 

In September this year, a statue paying tribute to Sir Geoff, his late, great West Ham and England teammates Bobby Moore and Martin Peters and the 1965 European Cup Winners' Cup winning side was unveiled outside London Stadium.

It may be nearly 50 years since Sir Geoff scored his final goal for West Ham United, but his career in Claret and Blue will never be forgotten; a legacy that will forever endure.

Happy birthday Sir Geoff!