Wednesday, July 13, 2011

GMF tribute to a Liverpool and England legend

Liverpool - Roger Hunt was a hero for club and country

By Emdad Rahman
Original article

Roger Hunt was signed by Phil Taylor from unfashionable Stockton and went on to enjoy a most illustrious career with Liverpool.

Hunt's presence at Liverpool was especially important in Bill Shankly's plans for his mighty Reds. His impact was inspiring and his contribution vital. With Hunt leading from the front, Shankly's charges emerged as Division 1 winners in 1963-64 and 1965-66. Hunt finished as top scorer during both campaigns.

With Peter Thompson and Callaghan providing the width and whipping in the ammunition, Hunt was the goalscorer supreme at Anfield, Shankly said: "Aye, Roger Hunt misses a few, but he gets in the right place to miss them.

"We wanted him to concentrate on goalscoring, in the same way Jimmy Greaves did at Tottenham,' Shankly explained later. ‘Mind you, Roger didn't just slide them in quietly, like Jimmy. He blasted them in."
In 1962, Walter Winterbottom had seen promise aplenty, handing the Liverpool frontman the first of his 34 international caps in a Wembley friendly against Austria. Hunt was still a Second Division player and rewarded Winterbottom's faith with a debut goal. The Liverpool hitman boarded the plane for Chile 1962 but did not make an appearance in the Finals.

Hunt's intelligence in an attacking role coupled with his versatility made him a valuable component in Sir Alf Ramsey's 66 World Cup squad - the Liverpool frontman was deployed in a different role to the one he was accustomed to at Anfield.

England in 1966 played an altogether different style to Liverpool. Sir Alf's Wingless Wonders sought a selfless runner up front - similar to the role Dirk Kuyt plays. Hunt's versatility was the tonic, and he was awarded the number 21 shirt.

Partnering Greaves and then Hurst, Hunt played in every game for England during the victorious World Cup campaign. He was one of Engand's most consistent performers and scored three goals during the finals. Hunt is cited by Geoff Hurst when there is discussion about the ball on the line goal. Hurst has maintained that when the ball bounced down off the crossbar Hunt wheeled away in celebration rather than tapping in to make sure.

Hunt himself has since added: “As a striker you automatically follow everything in because you don't know if it's going to come off the bar, the post or the goalkeeper. That would normally have been my reaction but I just thought it was going to bounce into the roof of the net. I was convinced. People ask me why I didn't just knock it in but I thought it was a goal. It was an automatic reaction.”

After 492 appearances and 245 goals Hunt left the Reds to join Bolton. In 2000, Hunt joined fellow 1966 heroes George Cohen, Nobby Stiles, Ray Wilson and the late Alan Ball in receiving the MBE from the Queen.

The lack of a Knighthood from the Queen has not deterred Liverpool fans, who will always address him as Sir Roger. Hunt's goalscoring record at Anfield is nothing short impressive with only Ian Rush ahead of him, though the man from Culchech, Lancashire still holds the club record of 245 League goals For Liverpool.

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