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The famous yet ‘infamous’ hat-trick of Geoff Hurst that gave England their only World Cup

The only man to have scored a hat-trick in the final of a World Cup remains Geoff Hurst since 1966- the year in which England became world champions for the first and last time till date. In front of a strong Wembley crowd, the hosts defeated West Germany by 4-2 in which Hurst scored three goals- of which the second being the controversial one.

Geoff Hurst against West Germany in 1966 final

Before Hurst’s hat-trick saga in the 1966 final, only four players scored more than once in the ultimate match of the tournament. Italy’s Gino Colaussi was the first player to score a double in a World Cup Final. He did it against Hungary in 1938. In 1954, Helmut Rahn of West Germany scored a brace against the mighty Hungarians and in the 1958 final Vava and Pele both ended with two goals against their names.

Geoff Hurst, who was not in the team till the quarter finals, was in superlative form in England’s 4-2 win in the final. His first of the three goals came in the 18th minute that saw England level scores to 1-1. After that it was a quiet period of 72 minutes for Hurst. During the usual 90 minutes of play, the English and the Germans were locked at 2-2 that saw the match enter into extra time.

The striker from West Ham United was back in action. Receiving a ball in the German penalty area Hurst lifted it towards the goal. It rose past the German keeper Hans Tilkowski, was smashed against the underside of the crossbar, bounced down and went away from goal. The referee could not make his decision and relied on his Azebaijani assistant Tofik Bakhramov. In a non-verbal communication between them, the decision was made and the goal was awarded to England.

The controversial goal of Geoff Hurst

In the 120th minute England was celebrating but this goal has gone into past as one of the most infamous ones. West Germany have always claimed that Hurst’s second goal did not cross the line after it bounced down off the crossbar. As per Hurst’s own version, “I hit the ball on the half-turn. I fell over, so I had a very poor view and the ball actually bounced behind Tilkowski, so I didn’t see it. But you want to believe more than your life’s worth that the ball crossed the line. And so that belief has remained strongly within me.”

Famous or infamous- the goal gave England a 3-2 lead. And next came another one from Geoff Hurst. A long ball from captain Booby Moore was knocked by him into the German fortress. England were up 4-2 and eventually won the world crown. But the debate continued on whether Hurst’s second goal really crossed the line.

46 years later, the goal-line technology was approved in 2012 by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). FIFA became serious in approving the technology once the debate took another turn in 2010 World Cup when English midfielder Frank Lampard’s first-half shot at goal bounced off the crossbar and was nullified by the referee. This technology is now being successfully implemented in the FIFA World Cup, the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the FIFA Confederations Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.

About Poulomi Kundu

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