Roger Hunt, a member of England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad and Liverpool’s second-highest goalscorer ever, has died at the age of 83.
Hunt was central figure in Sir Alf Ramsey’s England squad that delivered the nation’s first and only World Cup win in ’66, playing in attack alongside Sir Geoff Hurst. He played in all six games for England in the tournament and scored three goals.
Hunt was overlooked for a knighthood, prompting Liverpool fans to affectionately coin the nickname ‘Sir Roger’. Hunt received an MBE in 2000.
Hunt, who was born in Glazebury in Lancashire in 1938, scored 285 goals in 492 matches for Liverpool, with his debut coming in September 1959. On the international scene, Hunt played 34 times for England and netted 18 goals.
He was key man under the guidance of legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, scoring 41 goals in 41 games in the side that won the second tier in 1961-62. His partnership in attack with Ian St John, who passed away in March, is fondly remembered in Liverpool’s glittering history.
Hunt also enjoyed the distinction of scoring the first goal ever shown on the BBC’s Match of the Day highlights programme, a looping volley into the top corner during a 3-2 win over Arsenal on August 22, 1964.
He lived near Warrington with his wife Rowan, having previously been married to Patricia O’Brien, with whom he had two children.
Roger Hunt, one of England’s heroes from the 1966 World Cup and a Liverpool legend, has died at the age of 83
Hunt (top row, fourth right) is pictured among the victorious England squad celebrating with the Jules Rimet Trophy after the 1966 World Cup final. Back row (left-right): Peter Bonetti, George Eastham, Harold Shepherdson, Jack Charlton, Gordon Banks, Hunt, Bobby Moore, George Cohen, Bobby Charlton. Front row: Nobby Stiles, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson
Hunt was one of the unsung stars of England’s World Cup winning squad of 1966 (left); he is also the second-highest scorer in Liverpool’s history with a huge total of 285 goals in 492 matches, and he won the league twice while at Anfield
In 1965 Hunt opened the scoring when Liverpool beat Leeds 2-1 after extra-time at Wembley to win the FA Cup for the first time. Three years later, Hunt became Liverpool’s leading scorer in January 1968 with a goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Hunt and Liverpool would also become the champions of England twice, winning the First Division in 1964 and 1966.
Despite his relentless scoring record, one of the Shankly quotes that is engraved into Anfield folklore came when the Reds boss was quizzed about the forward missing chances.
‘Yes Roger Hunt misses a few, but he gets in the right place to miss them,’ Shankly said.
Hunt recalled his fondness of Shankly in an interview with the Liverpool Echo in 2020.
Hunt and his wife Rowan are pictured at the 1966 World Cup Exhibition Launch at Wembley Stadium in July 2016
Here Hunt signs an autograph for a young supporter at Anfield before a First Division game against Burnley in 1969
Hunt pictured in his official 1966 World Cup suit alongside England team-mate Nobby Stiles (left), who died last year
The striker pictured parading the World Cup around Goodison Park with England team-mate Ray Wilson before the 1966 Charity Shield match between Liverpool and Everton – despite them playing for rival clubs
‘Mr Shankly was a great man,’ Hunt said. ‘He was great for me. We had a very good relationship. He played me and I scored lots of goals for him!
‘I knew he was special. He was the best person. He wasn’t the hard man people thought he was. I didn’t know straight away that he’d have such an impact but I was aware pretty soon.
‘We had a great team and I always thought to myself “I’m scoring today”. And I usually did score! I scored a lot of goals, I was a good player.’
He left Liverpool in 1969 and joined Bolton, where he scored 25 goals in 84 appearances before retiring in 1972.
Hunt was overtaken as Liverpool’s leading scorer by Ian Rush in 1992, with the Welshman going on to score 346 goals for Liverpool.
Hunt and Liverpool would become the champions of England twice, winning the First Division in 1964 and 1966
Hunt relished working alongside legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly (right) and spoke in glowing terms about him
Liverpool boss Shankly famously said about Hunt: ‘Yes Roger Hunt misses a few, but he gets in the right place to miss them’
The striker won seven trophies with Liverpool between 1963 and 1966 before moving on to join Bolton (right)
JEFF POWELL: Quiet man Roger Hunt unfairly became a forgotten hero of England’s 1966 glory but Liverpool’s all-time record league scorer – known as ‘Sir Roger’ on Merseyside – should be remembered for his striker’s courage, tireless industry and gentle humility
All our obituaries are coming too late to let Roger Hunt know the professional esteem, the human respect, the unqualified admiration and the warmth of affection in which he was held.
We kept quiet about him. Just as he kept quiet about himself. Kept quiet far too long. In my case 55 years too long.
It wasn’t deliberate but in almost all those misty-eyed retrospectives written or broadcast about England’s solitary World Cup glory of ’66, Hunt was overshadowed by the majesty of Bobby Moore, the genius of Bobby Charlton, the miracles of Gordon Banks, the over-drive of Alan Ball, the deterrent called Nobby Stiles, that unique hat-trick by Geoff Hurst, even the ghostliness of Martin Peters.
Hunt (right) with Bobby Charlton during England’s 1966 World Cup win over Mexico – both players scored in the 2-0 win
Hunt in England’s team hotel playing cards with goalkeeper Gordon Banks (middle) and midfielder Bobby Charlton (right)
Only occasionally was anything approaching justice done to the relentless foraging, striker’s intelligence, Lancastrian courage and industrial revolutionary power with which Hunt opened up so many of England’s avenues to success.
Too often he was casually, idly, wrongly damned by faint praise as the work-horse.
So somehow Roger Hunt became the almost-forgotten man of English football’s finest hour.
Not by Hurst, who never fails to credit his partner up front for his contribution to the making those three unique World Cup Final goals.
Not by Liverpool supporters, by whom he remains so beloved that the official website still insists on calling him Sir Roger at every opportunity. Although, like Moore, he was never knighted.
No-one at Anfield ever forgets that his 244 goals in 404 appearances had much to do with raising them from the muddy trough of the old second division, to two English championships and their first FA Cup for umpteen years.
That tally remained the Liverpool scoring record until Ian Rush came along. Even then Hunt stayed ahead of the Welsh wizard on Football League goals.
But how many football fans beyond Merseyside can honestly say they remember how many Hunt scored in that halcyon World Cup tournament?
The forward (left) scored three goals during England’s 1966 World Cup campaign, and here celebrates the final victory
As many, as it happens, as Hurst in the Final itself. One in the 2-0 win against Mexico. Both in the victory over France by the same margin.
Even then not much fuss was made about, or by, the scorer.
But the ultimate compliment, the one which really mattered, was paid by England’s eventually knighted manager. Quietly, of course. In this case in private.
Alf Ramsey simply made it clear that if Jimmy Greaves recovered from injury then the choice for second centre-forward would be between him and Hurst. That whichever of those two got that tricky nod would be playing in the Final alongside Hunt the reliable, who had played every minute from the first kick of the opening match.
So yes, quietly, gentleman Roger went about his vital business. With so little commotion that he was disgracefully over-looked in the first raft of honours by the Queen. He had to wait until the belated second draft of MBEs made up mostly of non-playing members of the squad.
If he felt slighted, it never showed. Hunt was dignified by his humility. There was no ego, precious little partying. Shy if anything, so not that easy to get know well.
In character with the modest persona of a sensible man who did not even seem aware of how handsome he was.
But there was a discreet charm and unfailing courtesy. As the years went by he and I really only bumped into each other at the funerals of his fallen England and Liverpool comrades. We would shake hands, share a few reminiscences and wish each other well.
Hunt pictured at ‘World Cup 66 Live’ alongside Norman Hunter (left) Bobby Charlton (middle) in 2016
And now he leaves but three of his World Cup X1 team-mates still standing. Hurst, Bobby Charlton and George Cohen. Tragically, this cull of heroes seems to be quickening, accelerated in some cases by the onset of dementia.
But although Hunt could head a ball with the best of them, that does not appear to be a factor in this sad instance.
As he reaches football’s elysian fields he will no doubt be greeted by the rasping tones of the other great manager who held Hunt indispensable.
When Bill Shankly first took charge at Liverpool he cleared out almost an entire stock of players. But not, as he put it, ‘our Roger.’
Now the time has come not only to say our goodbyes but to apologise. So sorry, Sir Roger, that we left it too late to put your greatness on record in time for you to read.
Roger Hunt’s death at the age of 83 leaves just THREE surviving members of the England team that started the 1966 World Cup final with six of Alf Ramsey’s side passing away since May 2018
The death of Roger Hunt at the age of 83 leaves just three surviving members from the England team that won the World Cup in 1966.
Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Geoff Hurst and George Cohen are now the only living players from the team that famously and thrillingly defeated West Germany 4-2 after extra time at Wembley.
It remains England’s only major tournament triumph, though Gareth Southgate’s current crop were agonisingly close to beating Italy in the Euro 2020 final this summer.
Hunt started the ’66 final in attack but his industrious performance was always likely to be overshadowed by the hat-trick scored by his strike partner Hurst.
However, Hunt netted three times during the tournament – once in the 2-0 win over Mexico during the group stage and twice in the victory over France by the same scoreline that followed it.
He is a club legend at Liverpool, where he scored 261 goals in 416 matches and remains their all-time leading scorer in league competition.
Fans affectionately referred to Hunt as ‘Sir Roger’ even though he was never formally knighted. He received the MBE in 2000.
Here’s what happened to the rest of the England team that started the 1966 World Cup final.
Gordon Banks – One of English football’s most distinguished goalkeepers, Banks played 73 times for England in addition to 356 matches for Leicester City and 250 for Stoke City. He pulled off one of the finest saves ever seen to deny a certain goal by Brazil’s Pele in the 1970 World Cup. Banks died in February 2019 at the age of 81.
George Cohen – England’s right-back that afternoon at Wembley was a one-club man, turning out 459 times for Fulham during a 13-year playing career there. Cohen was capped 37 times for his country and played each of England’s six matches during the 1966 tournament and was the team’s vice-captain to Bobby Moore. Now aged 81.
Jack Charlton – The centre-back was another to play for just one club, spending a remarkable 21 years in the Leeds United squad and amassing 762 games and 95 goals. That included a league title, FA Cup and League Cup wins and two European Inter-Cities Fairs Cup successes. Played 35 times for England and later managed the Republic of Ireland in three major tournaments. Died in July 2020 at the age of 85 after suffering from lymphoma and dementia.
Bobby Moore – One of the finest defenders to ever play the game, Moore captained England to glory in 1966, famously wiping his hands so as not to dirty the Queen’s pristine white gloves during the trophy presentation. Spent the majority of his career at West Ham, making 647 appearances and captaining them for over a decade. Pele described Moore as the best defender he ever faced. Moore died aged 51 in February 1993 after suffering bowel and liver cancer.
Ray Wilson – Left-back who played for Everton at the time of the 1966 win having started his career at Huddersfield Town. He’d lifted the FA Cup at Wembley just before the World Cup glory. Wilson won 63 caps for England and also played in the Euro 1968 finals. He was the oldest player in the England side in the 1966 final at 31. He died in May 2018, aged 83, having suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for 14 years.
Nobby Stiles – Danced on the Wembley pitch with the Jules Rimet trophy in one hand and his false teeth in the other. Stiles was a no-nonsense defensive midfielder charged with hunting down dangerous opposition players and winning the ball back. In the semi-final with Portugal, he marked Eusebio out of the game. Spent the bulk of his career at Manchester United, achieving great success. Died in October 2020 at the age of 78. He had prostate cancer and advanced dementia.
Alan Ball – The midfielder was admired by Ramsey for his stamina and hard work and that would win him 72 caps for his country. Moved from Blackpool to Everton in the summer of ’66 and would later play for Arsenal and Southampton before moving into management. Died of a heart attack in April 2007 aged 61.
Bobby Charlton – An England legend who was the national team’s record goalscorer with 49 until surpassed by Wayne Rooney. When he retired from international duty in 1970, he was also the team’s record caps winner on 106. A long and remarkable career was dominated by 17 years in Manchester United’s first team which saw him survive the Munich air disaster and win the European Cup a decade later. Now 83, Charlton was diagnosed with dementia last year.
Martin Peters – West Ham’s Peters scored the second of England’s four goals against West Germany. It was only his eighth cap but he would go to win 67, scoring 20 times. Played over 700 matches in his professional career for West Ham, Tottenham, Norwich and Sheffield United. Another to suffer from Alzheimer’s in later life, he died in December 2019 aged 76.
Geoff Hurst – Arguably the best known of the 1966 heroes and certainly to a modern generation, Hurst scored a hat-trick to sink West Germany. His third goal, in the closing stages of extra time was accompanied by Kenneth Wolstenholme’s immortal commentary: ‘They think it’s all over… it is now!’ Scored 24 goals in 49 England games, playing at two more tournaments and was prolific for West Ham, with 242 goals in 500 outings. Now aged 79.