England legend Geoff Hurst says it takes more than one man to lift the FIFA World Cup™ but admitted it was "inconceivable" that the side could win without talisman Wayne Rooney. Hurst, England's hat-trick hero when they beat Germany to win the World Cup at home in 1966, believes England have a genuine chance to end 44 years of underachievement if they can field their top players throughout.
He reflected that the 1966 team won the tournament without top striker Jimmy Greaves, adding that the whole squad was important. "It's not one player that wins it, it's not 11 players that win it, it's not 15 players that win it," he said. "We won the World Cup in '66 without Wayne's equivalent, in fact better than Wayne, Jimmy Greaves. Jimmy Greaves played 57 games for England and scored 44 goals," Hurst said. Rooney has netted 25 times in 60 games.
"Having said that, I think it would be quite inconceivable that we could win the World Cup without Wayne Rooney playing up front," said the former West Ham player. "He is one of the most outstanding players in the world. We know him and (Cristiano) Ronaldo and (Lionel) Messi are in the top half dozen players who are performing great for their clubs and well for their countries," Hurst said. "And Wayne has for the past couple of years been brilliant for Man United and fantastic for England.
"It's impossible to replace your great player and every team has them. Replacing a Bobby Moore or a Bobby Charlton or a Gordon Banks in 1970 proved very difficult and that's the case with Wayne Rooney," he said. "We've got two players who are very similar, the big lads (Peter) Crouch and (Emile) Heskey so they replicate each other, so they wouldn't work that well together and then Jermain Defoe's coming in, who didn't finish off the season that well but is capable of scoring goals."
The former West Ham player said that with the current crop of top England players entering the latter stages of their careers, this might be the last chance to lift the Trophy for some time. "One or two people in England have said it may be our last chance to win it for a bit because you start ripping out the heart of our team, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, (Steven) Gerrard, (Frank) Lampard and possibly Ashley Cole at left back. We're looking at who's going to replace those guys. It's a really good chance. I realistically genuinely believe that, if we keep the players on the field, the first eleven in the big games."
When asked if he wanted his hat-trick record to stay intact, he said: "I hope we win the final 4-0 and Rooney and Gerrard get two each," before adding: "If it takes somebody to score three and win it, then so be it."