'One of the darkest periods of my life' - Sir Geoff Hurst speaks to Reading crowd

Sir Geoff Hurst visited Reading on May 23 <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Sir Geoff Hurst visited Reading on May 23 (Image: PA)

One of the heroes from England’s 1966 World Cup triumph has told a crowd in Reading about the ‘darkest period’ of his life.

Sir Geoff Hurst, who famously scored a hat-trick against West Germany to secure the Three Lions’ only major title to date, at the town’s Grosvenor Casino on Thursday, May 23.

It was part of Colin Murray's 52, a podcast series organised by the current Countdown host, who asks sports personalities five questions from a unique pack of 52 playing cards.

Only five questions are asked, and some are unrelated to the sport the guest has played.

After the five questions have been answered, members of the crowd can then put forward their query.

Speaking at the event, Hurst, 82, who scored 24 goals in 49 games for England, told the Reading Chronicle: “In 1970, we had around six or seven players from the ’66 team still there, along with the introduction of several new players to add to our strength.

“We’re in the quarter-final against West Germany and we’re leading 2-0.

“But we took Bobby Charlton off with 20 minutes to go, because for us, the game was over.

“The move was to rest Bobby Charlton for the next game due to the heat and altitude [as the match was held in Mexico].

“However, they can back and beat us 3-2 in extra time.

“It was one of the darkest periods of my life.

“Some things happened at the time and then, I was playing with the greatest goalkeeper I had ever seen in Gordon Banks.

“And not many people know that he went down with a tummy bug the morning of the game.

“Peter Bonetti, who came in for him, was a very good keeper but Gordon was the best at that time.

“I think that had a significant impact on the result.

“So how did I feel after that?

“Not good.

“It was bitterly disappointing.

“For about six or seven years, we were the team to beat worldwide.”