‘Trying to hide heartache merely leads to more grief’: Geoff Hurst at 80 on highs, lows and the boys of ‘66

England’s World Cup final hero endured family tragedy, unemployment and rejection after he retired. But football’s renaissance reminded everyone of the scale of his achievement

“Life is such a lottery,” Sir Geoff Hurst says as his face creases with emotion on a cold, sunlit morning full of moving revelations and surprising insights. Far beyond 1966, when he scored his famous hat-trick which helped England win the World Cup, Hurst considers a hard truth. “We lost our eldest daughter, Claire, to a brain tumour. How do you cope with that?”

There is a pause as, at home in Cheltenham, Hurst looks down. He turns 80 on 8 December but strength and serenity allow him to peel away the mythology of ‘66 and show how his true self has been shaped by glory and tragedy, fame and normality. Hurst nods and looks up again. “It’s something you have to cope with because life moves on.”

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The Guardian

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