England got their hands on the FIFA World Cup only once so far; in 1966, under the leadership of the iconic Bobby Moore. The hero of the final was undoubtedly, the one we look back at in this article: Sir Geoffrey Hurst. He remains the only footballer to have scored a hat-trick in a FIFA World Cup final match. England edged out West Germany in a thriller to win 4-2 and clinch the cup.
Hurst was into first-class cricket in his early life. He played in 23 matches for Essex Second Division XI, usually playing the role of a wicketkeeper, in the years between 1962 and 1964. He also played a first class match for Essex! However, that did not go well at all, with him scoring no runs at all — he stayed not out for 0 in the first innings, and was bowled out for a duck again in the second. Maybe this was what prompted him to take up the beautiful game.
He primarily spent his club team career at West Ham United, along with the likes of Bobby Moore. Playing 13 long years in West Ham, he assimilated 180 goals in 411 appearances. Later he spent around 3 years at Stoke City, among others.
Of the 24 goals he scored in the 49 international matches he played for England, surely the pinnacle was the 1966 World Cup final. He was involved with all the four goals, scoring the first, third and fourth goals in the process. What made the headlines (apart from England grabbing the silverware) was the third and decisive goal.
With the score locked 2-2 at full time, Alan Ball’s cross to Hurst in the first period of extra-time saw Hurst shooting a powerful kick towards the goal. It beat the West German goalkeeper Hans Tilkowski, hit the crossbar and bounced down before it was cleared by defender Weber out for a corner. Despite the German’s opposing, the linesman adjudged it a valid goal, which saw England get a 3-2 lead. This goal has been one of the most controversial ever scored in the history of football. Hurst also enjoyed a rather successful 1968 Euro Cup, with England finishing third by beating the Soviet Union 2-0.
After retiring from football, he had a notable coaching stint with the Chelsea Football Club, managing them in two seasons. Chelsea came fourth in the second division (only the top three qualify for the first division), even after a bright start. More woes were in store for the following season, as Chelsea lost out on another encouraging start to take 12th position in the second division. Hurst was sacked from the post.
Hurst was inducted in the English Football Hall of Fame in 2004, and was knighted in 1998.