Sir Geoff Hurst exclusive: There are comparisons between this West Ham team and our England 1966 side

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 (WHUFC)
(WHUFC)

England legend Sir Geoff Hurst believes there are realistic comparisons to be made between England’s World Cup triumph of 1966, Ron Greenwood’s successful West Ham team of the mid-Sixties and the present development of the club under David Moyes.

Speaking at the unveiling of a bronze statue at the London Stadium to pay tribute to himself, Bobby Moore and Martin Peters and West Ham’s Cup-Winners’ Cup Final victory in 1965, Hurst said: “It’s easy to compare what is happening now to this West Ham team and what happened back then.

“There is a lot of talk about the England players and what we achieved, but that was the result of three years’ work, with Sir Alf Ramsey (the then England manager) getting together a group of players — the right ones — and moving out players he didn’t want to be part of the squad.

“Ron Greenwood did something similar with West Ham, transforming the club to a team who could win trophies and produce players.

“I see that again with David Moyes. Prior to him coming [back], the club were not far off relegation. They are a very different group now. They have a resilience about them.

Sir Geoff Hurst, Kathy Peters and Roberta Moore unveil the statue (WHUFC)
Sir Geoff Hurst, Kathy Peters and Roberta Moore unveil the statue (WHUFC)

“The move from Upton Park to the London Stadium was not without its difficulties and some people blamed the stadium when the team struggled.

“I totally disagree with that, though. The way a team plays comes down to the manager and players, wherever they’re playing, whether it’s Wanstead Flats, Upton Park or the London Stadium.”

Hurst, who will be at tonight’s home Europa League Group H game against Rapid Vienna, also sees similarities between his transformation under Greenwood and Michail Antonio’s improvement under Moyes.

“The transformation under David has been absolutely astounding,” said Hurst.

“Ron Greenwood converted me from a struggling midfield player to a successful striker, and David has done something similar with Michail Antonio, changing him from a wide player to a central striker who is scoring lots of goals. Michail is fantastic and it’s important we keep him fit.”

Hurst who was at the official unveiling along with Bobby Moore’s daughter Roberta and Martin Peters’ wife Kathy, also spoke glowingly about West Ham captain Declan Rice.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Declan in the way he’s played for West Ham and the way he has progressed with the England team,” he said.

The plaque paying tribute to the three West Ham World Cup and European Champions (WHUFC)
The plaque paying tribute to the three West Ham World Cup and European Champions (WHUFC)

“I’d like to see him score a few more goals — to do a Martin Peters and to get in the box a few more times, but he has been fantastic.”

Hurst, who played in West Ham’s European Final in May 1965 and was then back at Wembley a little over a year later, scoring a hat-trick in the World Cup Final against West Germany, was joined at yesterday’s unveiling by four team-mates of the 1965 Final in Ken Brown, Ronnie Boyce, Brian Dear and Jack Burkett.

“It’s remarkable when I think back and remember I joined the club at 15 and now I finish up with a statue,” said Hurst.

“In fact, this is the third statue involving myself. There’s one outside the club’s former home at Upton Park, there’s one at Ashton-under-Lyne, where I spent my early years, and now this one outside the London Stadium, home of West Ham United.”

It was revealed that Peters’ ashes have been interred within the foundations of the statue, while Roberta Moore said: “I think it’s fantastic that these players have got a presence here that fans for generations to come can visit and bring their children and see the legacy of the 1965 European Cup-Winners’ Cup team.

“I’m just so grateful that it’s here and I know my dad would be really humbled and would have a really big smile on his face.”

Hurst also paid tribute to his former England team-mate Roger Hunt, who passed away earlier this week.

“We’ve lost my two fellow England strikers in Jimmy Greaves and Roger in the space of a couple of weeks and it has been really sad and emotional,” he said. “The three of us were vying for two positions in the World Cup and there is no way I would have been given the chance had Jimmy not been injured, so it finished up with myself and Roger — and the rest is history.

“Roger was a lovely man and my wife always said that, given the choice of going out to dinner with anyone in the squad and their wife, it would have been him.”

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