‘When this 1966 World Cup photo was taken, I still didn’t know I’d scored a hat-trick’

Geoff Hurst celebrates England winning the World Cup, 30 July 1966

There have probably been days over the past 51 years when someone hasn’t spoken to me about the 1966 World Cup final. But not many. I don’t mind that; you don’t get bored talking about winning a World Cup for England. If anything, as I get older, I find myself growing more astonished to have been part of something that means so much to so many people. I don’t think that’s unusual: in any walk of life it’s only as the years pass that you start to appreciate the significance of what you achieved.

It was a good afternoon. I scored a hat-trick, but it’s not false modesty to say I was fortunate. That squad didn’t need me in it to be world class. You had [Gordon] Banks, [Bobby] Moore, [Bobby] Charlton, [Jimmy] Greaves. Every one of those was unbelievable. I hadn’t been the best player at my school, let alone in the country, but I worked hard and had a good attitude. That’s what [England manager] Sir Alf Ramsey wanted in his players.

The day itself is a series of moments to me now. The coach to the ground, quiet and contemplative; walking out at Wembley to a growing roar; the goals, obviously. My favourite was the first. It was a Moore free-kick dropped straight into where I was running. It was straight off the training ground.

I can remember this photograph being taken. If you ask me how I was feeling, I can tell you in one word: tired. We’d been playing for two hours. We were all exhausted. You can see it in Ray Wilson’s face, he’s struggling to lift Moore there. I don’t know how I’m looking so fresh.

What might also seem surprising is that when this was taken, I didn’t know what the score had been. I still didn’t know I’d scored a hat-trick.

It’s sometimes assumed we paraded Bobby around like that. We didn’t. He was on our shoulders for only a few seconds – no more. It was just a spontaneous thing. It wasn’t for the camera, but I like that the moment was caught: it encapsulates the team’s camaraderie somehow. It captures how close knit we were as a group.

The other thing I remember clearly feeling was relief. We wanted so badly to win and because West Germany had scored a last-minute goal to take the game to extra-time, there was a worry the momentum was theirs. So to get over the line, you can’t describe it… it’s more than you dare dream of as a footballer. There are only 22 of us in this country to have known that feeling – although I live in hope for the day there are more.

The last goal – England’s fourth, my third – had come with the last kick. The ref blew the whistle pretty much as the ball hit the net. It was only when I was back in the dressing room afterwards I realised I wasn’t sure if it had counted. I wasn’t bothered either way; winning was what mattered. But I was curious to know. I remember putting my suit on and walking back down the tunnel. Wembley was quiet by then… the fans had all left. I got on to the pitch and was pretty much alone. I looked up at the scoreboard and, sure enough, it said 4-2. I remember thinking it was a job well done.

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Colin Drury

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