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How England Can Win The World Cup 2018 Sir Geoff Hurst
Jun 23, 2018

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Sir Geoff Hurst on how England can win the World Cup 2018

ith Argentina, Germany and Brazil all making stuttering starts to the World Cup, England’s 2-1 win against Tunisia last night is a positive way to kick off their campaign in Group G that’ll give fans a glimmer of hope that this could be their '66.

The Three Lions haven’t named a more inexperienced squad for a major tournament since 1962, four years before Sir Geoff Hurst scored that hat-trick against West Germany to secure England’s first ever World Cup triumph. Here, GQ speaks to the man himself about the 15 things it takes to go all the way…

1. Stick together

Sir Geoff Hurst: “Having success at a World Cup is about the team spirit and camaraderie that you generate over that four or five weeks. That comes down to the manager. In 1966, if players didn’t want to be a part of the group, Alf Ramsey was quite ruthless in getting them out of the squad. There were one or two players – and I won’t mention names – who had the ability to be in the team but were not included in his final squad. I look back at the group we had, though, and they were all just hard-working professionals.”

2. Start strongly

SGH: “It takes the pressure off everybody – the press, the players, the fans, and then you go on from there. The first game is key. In my time, we drew the first game against Uruguay, which was disappointing. Funnily enough, I saw a clip of that game a few weeks ago and I never realised how badly the crowd were booing us. What I thought was very clever from Sir Alf Ramsey and his team was after that disappointing start, to relax the tension, he took us to see some filming of an early James Bond film with Sean Connery at Pinewood Studios. Also, unbelievably, during lunch we were allowed a couple of glasses of wine!”

3. Master the basics

SGH: “Togetherness isn't the be-all and end-all. You still need a way of playing, a spirit and a never-say-die attitude. This is not a Sunday-afternoon picnic – this is football at the top level. You need to be on your game, have a plan and have good players in key positions. You’ve got to have the basics.”

4. Don't rely on one player

SGH: “It’s important that Harry Kane keeps scoring, but other players need to chip in too. You cannot rely on one player to score all the goals. Raheem Sterling is playing, but his record in terms of scoring goals isn’t great, whereas Danny Welbeck has about 16. When you’re picking the team, you could argue whether that is the right thing – do you pick a player that isn’t scoring goals or a player that is scoring goals? You also need players to contribute from the back at free kicks and corners.”

5. Be lucky

SGH: “Nothing proves that more than my second goal. You need a bit of luck from the linesman to say it was in. Nothing has ever been categorically proven whether it was in or not. In terms of luck, I was lucky to even be playing in the final because the great Jimmy Greaves was injured. I wouldn’t have been in the team if he was still playing. Luck can play a huge part. You’ve got to take it when it comes.”

6. Prepare well

SGH: “I always prepared the same way for England the way I did for West Ham. It’s what I was taught. Don’t make any changes. I used to get up, have a walk around the shops, then eat exactly the same thing that I’d have at West Ham, whether it was fish, beans on toast or something else sensible. The preparation would be much like it was at club level.”

7. Be positive

SGH: “We’ve got a good enough squad. A lot of them play that way for their clubs. They’re all playing fast, attacking football and I think that’s very healthy. I’d be very surprised if the attitude will change. They’ve got to go out and have a go. They have to make the fans of the country proud. We can all forgive the team if they lose games of football, but we can’t forgive a lack of attitude, spirit and determination. This isn’t the time to be cautious.”

8. Trust your keeper

SGH: “It’s such a singular position. People could argue our three goalkeepers are too young and inexperienced, but Jordan Pickford looks very confident, especially from the back, which is the style we want to play. You need a good goalkeeper to make big saves in the big moments for your team.”

9. Support the team

SGH: “The players are very aware of the fans supporting them inside the stadiums and, of course, those who are at home too. When you walk out onto the pitch and see the flags, it really does help. They will all notice it and it’ll give them a lift.”

10. Be resilient

SGH: “You’ve got to have this to be successful at a World Cup. It is part of the overall attitude. It’s integral. You will have your setbacks during a tournament and it’s about how you turn it around. Our big setback in ’66 was our opening game against Uruguay, but we overcame it and look what we went on to do.”