Goal.com's Top 50 English Players: Geoff Hurst (20)

We continue our countdown of the 50 greatest English players with the only footballer to have ever scored a hat-trick in a World Cup final.
No.50 - John Terry
No.49 - Tony Currie
No.48 - Terry Butcher
No.47 - Gerry Hitchens
No.46 - Paul Ince
No.45 - George Camsell
No.44 - Wayne Rooney
No.43 - Jackie Milburn
No.42 - Roger Hunt
No.41 - Rio Ferdinand
No.40 - Wilf Mannion

No.39 - Frank Lampard
No.38 - John Barnes
No.37 - Nat Lofthouse
No.36 - Eddie Hapgood
No.35 - Chris Waddle
No.34 - David Platt
No.33 - Phil Neal
No.32 - Johnny Haynes
No.31 - Peter Beardsley
No.30 - Ray Clemence
No.29 - Ted Drake
No.28 - Michael Owen
No.27 - Raich Carter
No.26 - Colin Bell
No.25 – Frank Swift
No.24 - Paul Scholes
No.23 - Tony Adams
No.22 - Martin Peters
No.21 - Billy Wright

Geoff HURST
Born08/12/1941, Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester.
England49 caps, 24 goals
ClubsWest Ham United, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, Seattle Sounders, Cork Celtic

Geoff Hurst was a blessed sportsman. Like a number of entrants in Goal.com's top 50 English players, Hurst was also a talent in the field of cricket and could have carved a career in the bat and ball sport for Essex County but focused on football instead. Famed for being the only player to have scored a hat-trick in a World Cup final, the striker was also known for helping West Ham United lift aloft the FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup in the mid-1960s.

His goals to games ratio for the club at which he spent the bulk of his career, the Irons, indicate that he was the ultimate 1:2 man, striking 252 times in 502 appearances in all competitions for the Boleyn Ground outfit. When he started out at the Hammers, he was initially schooled as a wing-half (midfielder) with an attacking spirit. Over the years, though, he was eventually to be groomed - by Ron Greenwood - into the centre forward that he is remembered as today.

CAREER HIGHLIGHT

Hat-Trick Hero
It was to prove a fruitful and inspired transition, as Hurst was responsible for firing the east Londoners to silverware success, scoring a second equaliser for West Ham in the club's FA Cup final of 1964 against Preston North End; a game that ended 3-2 in Hurst's side's favour.

That tournament win qualified the club for continental competition the following season. In the same stadium where they defeated Preston, West Ham welcomed 1860 Munich to London, beating their German visitors by a 2-0 scoreline to claim the European Cup Winners' Cup. Unfortunately for Hurst, and indeed the club as a whole, he was unable to aid the side's cause for claiming a trophy for the third season on the spin, as they crashed out the League Cup at the final hurdle when they lost to West Bromwich Albion in 1966. But, as luck would have it, greater things were in store for Hurst that year.

Hurst was still considered a burgeoning commodity and was yet to make his full England debut, despite going on to gun down old foe West Germany in the World Cup final only a matter of months later. He was offered his first appearance in a Three Lions shirt by national boss Alf Ramsey because he was regarded as a viable alternative to the first-choice duo of Jimmy Greaves and Roger Hunt.

He was therefore included in Ramsey's initial squad of 22 for the summer tournament. He made his World Cup bow in the quarter-final against Argentina, when he replaced Greaves, who had to be brought off so that he could receive treatment for a gashed leg. It was to serve as in inspired substitution as Hurst went on to grab the winner.

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"Without him England would never have had the finest moment in its footballing history. Hurst is one of the best things to have happened to English football." - ek123 | ireland

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Argentina were reduced to ten men by this stage of the last eight clash, favouring a somewhat robust approach to the fixture. Towards the game's conclusion, Martin Peters curled a well-weighted cross from the left hand side into the path of Hurst, who evaded his marker sufficiently to glance a near-post header into the net. Hurst's was the only goal of the game.

Hurst and Hunt partnered each other again for the semi-final against the Portuguese. England negotiated their way into the final by virtue of a 2-1 triumph, both goals were scored by Manchester United star Bobby Charlton.

Ramsey faced great and well-publicised selection problems at the time, as Greaves had, by the time of the World Cup final, fully recovered from his injury. The national manager decided to stay true to the Hurst and Hunt partnership, over the tried-and-tested Greaves and Hunt. Geoff Hurst, it seemed, had impressed Ramsey enough in the one-and-a-half fixtures he had played to maintain his spot in the England XI. The media, though, were calling for Greaves.

Ramsey did not budge on his viewpoint, and it was to prove the correct stance. He was fully vindicated as Hurst scored a hat-trick, albeit contentious due to claims that one of the extra-time goals against West Germany did not cross the line.

Hurst claimed that he was always convinced the effort was a legitimate goal because, even though he never saw it go in due to his momentum taking his glance away from goal, he noticed Hunt was ready to follow in, yet decided to veer away in celebration instead of ensuring it was a goal. Hurst believed that a natural goal-scorer such as Hunt would have followed the ball in had he not been 100 per cent convinced that it had not crossed the line.

HONOURS

West Ham
UEFA Cup Winners Cup (1965)
FA Cup (1964)

England
World Cup (1966)

DID YOU KNOW ... that Geoff Hurst has never grown a moustache? "I really don’t suit the moustache, even though a lot of footballers had them in my day," he said. "I grew my hair quite long; that was about as adventurous as I got. I’ve tried the beard, but Mrs Hurst doesn’t like it; she says it made me look like Compo from Last of the Summer Wine. So I shaved it off."

Alan Dawson, Goal.com

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