Roger Hunt, Liverpool Striker and World Cup Winner, Dies at 83
(Bloomberg) -- Roger Hunt, the striker who helped Liverpool to two league titles and played in the team that won England’s only World Cup title in 1966, has died. He was 83.
Known as “Sir Roger” by the Liverpool fans where he played for 11 years, Hunt died of an undisclosed illness, his former team said in a statement Tuesday.
Hunt played in all six matches at the 1966 tournament in England, scoring three goals and partnering with Geoff Hurst in the final against West Germany. Four years earlier in Chile, he was selected for the World Cup squad but never made an appearance on the field.
Hunt’s death comes little more than a week after that of England colleague Jimmy Greaves, and six months after that of Ian St. John, his long-time striking partner at Anfield.
“Unfortunately, it feels too frequent in this moment we are saying farewell to these giants of our club,” said Liverpool’s current manager Jurgen Klopp. “Roger Hunt comes second to no-one in his importance in the history of Liverpool FC, that much is clear.”
The team will wear black armbands in his honor for Tuesday’s Champions League match against Porto.
Hunt scored on his international debut in a 3-1 win against Austria in April 1962 and went on to score 18 times in 34 matches. He was only ever on the losing team twice when playing for England.
In the 1966 final, he was the closest England player to the net when Hurst scored one of the most controversial goals in the history of the competition.
In extra time, with the scores tied at 2-2, the ball struck the bar and bounced down, although it was unclear if it crossed the line. Hunt, instead of attempting to hit it into the net, held his arms aloft in celebration, an action regarded by some as confirming that the ball had crossed. Referee Gottfried Dienst consulted linesman Tofik Bakhramov before allowing the goal.
“I thought it was over the line,” Hunt said later.
Born in Golborne, Lancashire, Hunt developed a game based on pace, strength, stamina and a powerful shot. He scored on his first competitive match for Liverpool in September 1959 against Scunthorpe after playing only five reserve games. He had rejected a better offer from Swindon to join the club.
In a decade at Liverpool, he made 492 appearances and scored 285 goals. While Ian Rush, with 346 goals in all competitions, was more prolific in all competitions for the northwest England club, Hunt still holds the record for goals scored in the league.
After manager Bill Shankly signed St. John to play in attack with Hunt in 1961, he scored 41 times in as many games as Liverpool won the second division title to reach the elite Division One.
Hunt notched 110 goals in league matches during the next four seasons as the club claimed the Division One title in 1964 and 1966. In the intervening season, he headed the first goal in a 2-1 F.A. Cup final victory against Leeds.
“To be the goalscoring catalyst of the Shankly team to actually achieve promotion and then go on to win those precious league titles and the F.A. Cup puts him in a bracket of LFC legends who are responsible for making us the club we are today,” Klopp said.
He moved to Bolton in 1969 before retiring three years later.
After ending his career, Hunt started a haulage company. He also served on the “pools panel,” which decides the “results” of postponed games, so that the soccer betting pools can still take place even when matches are called off.
Hunt was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire, or MBE, in 2000.
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