Sir Geoff Hurst, scorer of the hat-trick that won England the World Cup in 1966, has identified Declan Rice as a key player this summer at Euro 2020.
Speaking as an ambassador for the FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards, Hurst told FourFourTwo that he thinks England have a good chance at the tournament. Like Rice, Hurst came through the ranks at West Ham United, changing his role to devastating effect; while Declan Rice was originally a defensive midfielder who's become more of a box-to-box presence under David Moyes, Hurst was a midfielder who adapted his game to become a striker.
"What a season it’s been for him and West Ham," Sir Geoff Hurst said of Rice. "Players get selected sometimes because they’re in a team that’s doing well as opposed to them doing well [individually] - but I don’t think you can level that at Declan, he’s been fantastic for a couple of seasons in the position he plays."
"That position’s very important in terms of stopping the opposition playing, maybe marking someone if he has to, setting things up. He’ll be there alongside one of the other lads, one of the more creative players."
Hurst took steps in management after retiring from his playing career, before stepping back from football altogether. The England hero has been involving in the FA and McDonald's grassroots football campaigns for almost 20 years now, though - and Hurst says the past year has been a particularly testing one for grassroots level, in light of the pandemic.
"It’s very difficult for grassroots football, particularly for kids to get out and play the game," Hurst said. "I’ve got grandchildren - one plays football, one is involved in drama and I’ve seen closehand just how difficult it is for young children not to be able to do things that we take for granted every day as a family."
"It’s great that kids are going back to school and that we’re getting back to some sort of normality so that kids can get back to playing the game that they love at grassroots. The vaccinations are a huge step forward and hopefully it won’t be too long before we get back to normality - particularly for the children."
As well as getting involved in the 2021 FA & McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards - and watching the new generation of England stars, Sir Geoff told us that he has also taken time in the past year to respond to the fan mail he's received from all over the world.
"One thing I’ve seen since the pandemic is the amount of mail I’m getting now - people have nothing to do so they’re writing letters asking for autographs," he told us.
"I’m getting mail every day! From all over the country. California, last week, one came from. New South Wales in Australia, this week. Of course, Europe, Japan, Korea, all over. All over!"
England legend Sir Geoff Hurst is launching nominations for the 2021 FA & McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards. To nominate your grassroots hero, go to www.mcdonalds.co.uk/awards
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