Geoff Hurst, only footballer to score a treble in World Cup final

Deceptively quick for a big man, Geoff Hurst was known for his strength and sudden bursts.

File photo of Geoff Hurst during a training session in London.   -  The Hindu Archives

For someone who made his international debut only five months prior to the 1966 World Cup, Geoff Hurst made history by scoring a treble in the final against West Germany at Wembley. This, after an injury to first-choice England striker Jimmy Greaves paved the way for Sir Alf Ramsey to play Hurst in the knock-out phase.

He scored the winner in the quarterfinal against Argentina and remains the only player to have netted a treble in the title round.

Born on December 8, 1941 in Ashton-under-Lyne, Hurst joined West Ham in 1958 as a wing-half, turned a professional a year later, and made his debut in February 1960 against Nottingham Forest.

Hurst was a changed performer when manager Ron Greenwood played him as a pure striker, partnering Johnny Byrne, and the two developed into Ham's most successful strike force, bringing home the F.A. Cup in 1964 (Hurst scored in the final against Preston) and the European Cup Winners Cup in the following year, both at the Wembley. Then came his, as well as English football's, greatest moment.

 

Deceptively quick for a big man, Hurst was known for his strength and sudden bursts. His third goal in the final was a classic. Even as little boys dashed onto the ground in the dying seconds of the game, Hurst collected Moore's long pass and darted. With impishness in his eyes and blowing out his cheeks he beat Tilkowski with a ferocious left-footer.

But his penultimate goal is among the most controversial ones in World Cup history. His fierce right-footer from the near post beat Tilkowski, hit the underside of the bar and bounced down. Amidst protesting Germans, referee Herr Dienst consulted Russian linesman Bakhramov and pointed towards the centre spot.

Hurst, also a first class cricketer, played in Mexico '70, where England was beaten by West Germany in the quarterfinals. He won 49 caps for England and scored 24 goals.

In 1972, Hurst left West Ham for Stoke City. In the 12 seasons with Ham, he made 411 league appearances (scoring 180 goals) and 91 Cup appearances (netting 72 goals). He finished his career with West Bromwich Albion.

Later, he managed Telford United and Chelsea and assisted Greenwood with the National squad, before moving to the insurance trade, which is his career now.

One of West Ham's favourite sons, Hurst is often seen at Upton Park on a match day. Knighted in 1998, he is a key figure in England's 2006 World Cup bid.

Gallery of Greats: A Sportstar series on World Cup heroes