Hurst hammers his way into history

  • Image captures Geoff Hurst scoring the sixth goal of a thrilling 1966 Final

  • England striker scored a hat-trick to make World Cup history

  • Hurst admits his famous strike did not work out quite as intended

This was the 120th-minute shot that secured England’s first and, to date, only FIFA World Cup™. It made Geoff Hurst a household name across the globe and a footballing immortal in his homeland. It also rounded off a hat-trick – the only treble ever scored in a World Cup Final – and was the most spectacular of his three historic goals.

But ask the hero of 1966 if he meant to blast the ball in the top corner with his weaker foot, and he provides a refreshingly candid response. “The honest answer is, as I got to the edge of the area, I was thinking that the game was nearly over and I would just hit it with everything I’ve got,” he said. “If it went beyond the bar, beyond the stand and into the crowd, by the time the ball boy got it back to [Hans] Tilkowski (West Germany’s goalkeeper) and he’s kicked it up the field, the game has got to be over. But as you all know, I mishit it and it flew in!

“It had rained before the game,” Hurst added, “and the pitch was cut up in a few areas and the ball was almost on a divot. It was like a tee shot in golf. And it caught my bony instep, so that's where the power came from.”

The goal was accompanied in Britain by a legendary piece of television commentary. Spotting a minor pitch invasion as Hurst raced through in the left channel, the BBC’s Kenneth Wolstenholme exclaimed: “Some people are on the pitch! They think it's all over.” Cue Hurst firing high into the net and Wolstenholme adding famously: “It is now!”

In England, Hurst’s goal and Wolstenholme’s words have become synonymous with each other. They are also equally beloved. As Hurst himself reflected: “If the best broadcasters in the world had as much time as they liked, they could never come up with a better line of commentary. When I lived in Weybridge, there was a Rover car dealership and the headline in the paper was: 'They think it's all Rover.' It's a part of our language now.”

Hurst’s unforgettable strike, deliberate or otherwise, fully merited such an enduring soundtrack. If not part of the language, that left-foot ‘mishit’ undoubtedly forms part of England's sporting and cultural history.

Did you know? Visitors to the FIFA Football Museum can sit on seats from the old Wembley Stadium, where Hurst’s historic hat-trick was scored.