Sir Geoff Hurst has called the decision to patch up David Luiz, then allow him to play on and drive home after clashing heads with Raul Jimenez, ‘absolutely disgraceful’.
Hurst has become a leading campaigner in football’s fight against dementia after five of his former England team-mates from the 1966 World Cup were diagnosed with the disease.
‘It is a crazy situation with David Luiz,’ said 78-year-old Hurst. ‘It is an horrendous accident but could not illustrate better what we’re saying. People are getting bad head injuries, being bandaged up, playing on and driving home. It is absolutely disgraceful. Something has to be done ASAP.
Arsenal allowed David Luiz to drive home despite receiving seven stitches for his head wound
The macho culture leaves any diagnosis involving the player’s participation open to question
‘We’ve got to stop heading for kids and in practice, and we’ve got to look at concussion substitutes, and not let the guys be brave like David Luiz.
‘Medical people, governing bodies and clubs have to say, “No, you have a head injury, come off while we look into it”, and put a substitute on while you do that, and someone drives you home.’
Nobby Stiles, Jack Charlton, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson — four of Sir Alf Ramsey’s team in the 1966 final — have died after living with dementia. Sir Bobby Charlton, 83, is another with the illness.
Peters’ diagnosis was the start of Hurst’s close association with the Alzheimer’s Society. They were team-mates at West Ham, and their wives, Judith and Kathy, remain close friends, still in daily contact. Peters died last December, aged 76.
Luiz and Raul Jimenez clashed heads while battling for the ball but after a short spell on the sidelines the Arsenal defender was controversially allowed to continue playing the game
Sir Geoff Hurst described Luiz’s ability to continue as a disgrace and attitudes need to change
‘Looking at my team-mates, and that group of 22, I always felt there was a connection with dementia, even before the scientific evidence,’ said Hurst.
‘Now they say professionals are three and a half times more likely to get it than the man in the street. Martin was diagnosed eight years ago and we know how difficult it was for Kathy to cope. We lived with it quite closely.’
He knows Peters’ prowess in the air was underestimated. ‘Alf didn’t pick him for some time and Ron Greenwood, our West Ham manager, was always telling him, “You’ve got to pick this guy, he’s fantastic”.
‘Alf told Ron he wasn’t because he felt Martin couldn’t head the ball. Martin was the best header of a ball at the club, by far. And his goal record from midfield stands up alongside the greats of recent years, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.’
Peters and Hurst are the only English footballers to score in a World Cup final. Peters pounced for the second against West Germany to put England 2-1 up. It looked set to be the winner until Wolfgang Weber equalised in the 90th minute and the game went to extra time.
Hurst, having scored England’s first goal, added two more. He is the only player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final, and is backing an exciting project to restore and colourise the entire footage of that day to preserve the legacy of his team.
Martin Peters (second left), Jack Charlton (third left) and Nobby Stiles (far right) all died after battles with dementia and their legacy is what is driving Hurst on now as a campaigner
‘It deserves to be shown in its proper colour,’ said Hurst. ‘Particularly with those iconic red shirts. The Germans won the toss, played in their white shirts and we ended up in red — and I know because I sign them every day. I am sent an amazing number to sign, 20 at a time from charities or individual people sending me red shirts with the badge on, and photographs, all in colour. But when you see the black and white version on television, the shirts are grey.’
There are colour clips of the 1966 final, from the BAFTA award-winning documentary Goal! but the only complete film of the 4-2 victory against West Germany is in black and white.
Final Replay ’66 are the company behind #fullcolour66. They plan to restore and colourise 180,000 frames of footage, with the help of Park Road Post Production, the New Zealand company behind the acclaimed First World War film They Shall Not Grow Old.
‘This is an exciting project,’ said Hurst. ‘This is our national sport and an achievement we haven’t matched for 50-odd years. It also honours the memories of our great players. It’s very sad with the players we’re losing from our team.’
Watch Sir Geoff talk about his team-mates in an exclusive video at Mailplus.co.uk/sport.
For more info on #fullcolour66 go to: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/fullcolour66