Dominick Howson

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ENGLAND great Sir Geoff Hurst has one stand-out memory of the Steel City from his playing days.

He fondly recalls the FA Cup semi-final clash between West Ham United and Manchester United at Hillsborough in 1964.

“It was one of the best days of my career,” he said. “We beat a magnificent Manchester United side 3-1 and went on to lift the trophy that season.

“The week before we had played Manchester United in a league game at Upton Park and they beat us 2-0 and I think half of their big stars were not playing. Some of the big guns like Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best were rested and did not play in the league but were brought back in the team for the cup game.

“We were not favourites and nobody expected us to win.

“It was a David versus Goliath clash. West Ham were nowhere near the size of Manchester United and the gap is even bigger today.

“We played on a very heavy pitch and the game arguably should not have been played but we got the win.”

In the cup upset, Hurst grabbed the Hammers’ third goal.

“Bobby Moore took it out of defence, as usual, hit a fantastic ball towards me in the mud and I eventually got on to it and tucked it away from just outside the box,” said Hurst. “It was a special goal and it is definitely up there in my career.

“I had some great times at West Ham. I love the club and still support them but, in any sport, it is still bigger to represent your country than it is your club.”

Of the two Sheffield grounds, Hurst preferred playing at Hillsborough.

“I think it is the better ground of the two and that is why they held semi-finals there,” he said. “I liked playing against Wednesday’s centre-backs.’’