You ask the questions: Sir Geoff Hurst

(Such as: so, Sir Geoff Hurst, did that ball really cross the line? And what are England's chances for the 2002 World Cup?)
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The Independent Online

The footballer Sir Geoff Hurst was born just outside Manchester in 1941. He spent most of his career at West Ham United, which he joined at 16 before moving to Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion. Hurst won 49 caps for England and was catapulted to fame in only his eighth international when he scored a hat-trick against West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley. His second goal of the match has become one of the most controversial in the history of the game, and debate has raged ever since over whether the ball actually crossed the line or not.

Since retiring as a player Sir Geoff has worked in football management at Telford United and Chelsea and has also worked in insurance. He was knighted in 1998 for services to football and was a key member of England's World Cup 2006 bid. Sir Geoff has just published his autobiography and is currently working on a campaign to keep the national stadium at Wembley. He is married with three daughters and lives in Weybridge in Surrey.

Which players, alive or dead, would make your dream 11?

Tim Burns, by e-mail

That's easy, my England line-up to beat all comers is Banks, Neville G, Adams, Moore, Wilson, Finney, Charlton B, Bryan Robson, Edwards, Shearer and Greaves. And on the subs bench Shilton, Butcher, Mullery, Peters and Keegan.

It's the World Cup final 2002. England are beating France 2-0 in the 90th minute, so victory is guaranteed. Michael Owen has the chance to emulate yourself by scoring a hat-trick with a penalty in the dying seconds. Would you secretly be hoping that he scuffs it, so you would remain the only man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final?

Matthew Roach, Oswestry

Providing England win the game, yes I would like him to scuff it. I'd like to see England win 4-0 in the final. So I'd like him to knock it very slightly wide of the post or just over the bar. I'm very selfish about my World Cup hat-trick.

Players these days don't drink, don't smoke, eat properly and take copious amounts of medical advice. How did the team of '66 celebrate in the weeks after their win? Any parties in particular which were specially memorable?

Charotte Menzies, Cardiff

The crazy thing about the World Cup is that it came right at the end of July so it was virtually encroaching on the new season. So in short there was very little partying because by that time a lot of clubs were back in training for the following season. They threw a banquet at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington for the four semi-finalists. It finished at midnight and none of our wives was invited. It was a Saturday so I asked a few lads if they wanted to go for a drink afterwards and organised to go to Danny la Rue's club in Hanover Square. I went with Alan Ball, Nobby Stiles, John Connelly and our wives. Martin Peters said he was coming but at the last minute changed his mind; he just decided to stay in with his wife. It's remarkable when you consider what happens today.

If you ever fell on hard times would you consider selling your '66 medal, and if so how much would you expect to get from it?

M Best, by e-mail

It wouldn't depend on falling on hard times. I'm not in hard times and have recently sold the medal to West Ham United for a substantial sum. After a number of burglaries at my home the medal was locked away in the bank. As there was no way I could split it between my three daughters, I was happy for the medal to find its spiritual home at West Ham where I played for 15 years and where it can be on display for all to see.

How many keepy-uppies can you do?

Mike Godliman, Twickenham

Not many. These days I don't practise. Although I was never very adept at doing them when I was at my peak because keeping the ball in the air thousands of times isn't part and parcel, in my book, of being a top striker. I smile when I see footballers doing party tricks in training, in matches there's no opportunity to do them. Some players may be able to do party tricks but they can't pass the ball 10 yards from A to B.

Come on, be honest, did the ball really cross the line?

Paul Smyth, Hackney

Yes.

What are England's chances for the 2002 World Cup?

S Tyler, by e-mail

It's a long way away and anything can happen. But it's an encouraging start from Sven, we're starting to produce young players capable of becoming world class so prospects are good. With enough time to prepare and prepare properly, who knows what we can achieve?

What is the greatest match you have ever seen? And who is the greatest footballer?

James Dickie, London

The greatest match is Eintracht Frankfurt versus Real Madrid at Hampden Park in the1960 European Cup final. Real won 7-3. The greatest player ever was Pele, no question: he scored more than 1,000 goals in top-class football.

How does it feel to have built a career on the fact that you stumbled luckily into the right place at the right time on three occasions on 30 July 1966?

E Lawrence, by e-mail

That's a facetious question, and doesn't deserve a proper answer. I could spend 10 minutes justifying my role in the World Cup final but the good thing about scoring a hat-trick is that you don't have to go on telling the world about it because the world already knows.

Do you approve of a foreign coach as England manager and what is your opinion of Sven Goran Eriksson?

S Weldon, Hull

Yes, I do approve of foreign coaches, if they've got the right qualities. The disappointment initially with Sven's appointment was that we didn't have enough England coaches who either wanted the job or were good enough. He's doing a good job so far. But if England were to get to a World Cup final we wouldn't give a damn if it's with Mickey Mouse in charge and Donald Duck as a coach.

You have opposed the building of a new national football stadium near Birmingham on the grounds that it was at Wembley that both England and you enjoyed your finest hour. Don't you think that the constant harking back to Wembley 1966 'and all that' has left the England national team in a time-warp and that a new location and new vision is needed for it to move forward?'

Jill Gramann, Worcestershire

Unfortunately we have to hark back to the World Cup 35 years ago because it's the only time we won it. I think it will be detrimental to our bid for hosting the World Cup in the future to find a stadium that isn't in the capital city. London is the place where the majority of people want to come. You can still move forward by replacing the stadium with the most magnificent stadium in the world, but still at Wembley. Moving it somewhere else doesn't mean moving on, we move on by developing young players and a great national team.

'1966 and All That: My Autobiography' by Geoff Hurst is out now, £18.99, published by Headline Books

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