Roger Hunt obituary: 'Gentleman, modest and one of Liverpool's greatest'

Liverpool fans called Roger Hunt Sir Roger, even though he was never knighted.
Roger Hunt, who died at the age of 83, was one of those 11 England players who won a World Cup medal. He was also, quite simply and without doubt, one of Liverpool's greatest players.

Liverpool fans called him Sir Roger Hunt because of his gentle demeanour and modesty, as well as his goal-scoring skills that saw him score 285 goals in 492 games, which was second to Ian Rush's club record.

Hunt's reputation for honesty and sportsmanship was so strong that he refused to celebrate a goal after Geoff Hurst’s controversial shot hit the bar at Wembley in 1966 World Cup victory over West Germany. His team-mates believed that this proved the legitimacy of the goal.

Hunt was known as the "workhorse" of England's World Cup win. He played with his sleeves up almost as a sign of his willingness to do dirty work. But this criminally underrates Hunt, a truly exceptional striker whose brilliance made him an iconic figure for country and club.

Hunt, a Lancashire native, joined Liverpool in July 1958 from Stockton Heath. He was signed by Phil Taylor, then manager. His debut was celebrated with a goal against Scunthorpe United, September 1959.

Later that year, Bill Shankly made a mad dash through Liverpool to clear out players who he felt did not conform to his standards.

Hunt (top right) is pictured with Liverpool teammates on the train to London prior to the 1965 FA Cup final. He scored the Reds' win over Leeds to lift the trophy for his first time.

Hunt was there and he became the key leader in the great Anfield revolution in the 1960s. He played a pivotal role in leading Liverpool from the Second Division to the top flight.

After he moved from Motherwell to Liverpool, he formed a deadly strike partnership with Ian St John. Liverpool won the First Division title in 1963–64 and 1965–66. The FA Cup was also won for the first-time in 1965 when Hunt and St John scored in the Wembley 2-1 victory over Leeds United.

Hunt also made history when he scored the first Match Of The Day goal - BBC2’s new weekly football highlights program - on 22 August 1964. He scored a looping goal at The Kop as Liverpool beat Arsenal 3-1.

Hunt's career reached its peak in 1966, when he scored 29 goals in 37 matches as Liverpool won the title. He was also a key member of Sir Alf Ramsey’s World Cup winning side.

In April 1962, he won the first of 34 England caps against Austria at Wembley. He also maintained an impressive goal scoring record of 18, before making his last appearance against Romania in January 1969 in a 1-1 draw at Wembley.

Hunt's few weeks in the summer 66 were what made him a legend in England and Liverpool history.

Ramsey wanted his players to combine sweat with skill, and Hunt could have been the model, a tireless worker who was also a striker at the highest level.

Hunt, far right (far left), played in every game and scored three goals during England's 1966 World Cup campaign.

Hunt scored three goals against Mexico and twice against France in England's group matches. Even though there was some debate about whether Jimmy Greaves would be back in the side, Hunt's place in the team was never in doubt.

Greaves or Geoff Hurst was the final choice. Greaves was devastated and Hurst scored a goal in the final. English football had its best day.

Hunt's Liverpool career was marred by disappointment when he failed to win the European trophy with Shankly and his outstanding team.

1965: Liverpool lost to Inter Milan in the European Cup semi-finals. This was a 3-0 loss at the San Siro, after Liverpool had won 3-1 at Anfield. Shankly and his players were forever hurt by these decisions.

Hunt and Liverpool were disappointed again a year later, losing 2-1 to Borussia Dortmund at the 1966 European Cup Winners Cup Final. He had previously scored an equaliser.

Hunt delivered for Liverpool on a consistent basis and is still the club's record scorer in league with 244 goals.

Shankly's time at Liverpool was over. He decided to rebuild once again at the end of the decade. This was a rare and unusual act of disobedience from Bobby Graham, who was replaced by him in the FA Cup fifth round loss to Leicester City at Anfield in March 1969.

Hunt would continue to run the family haulage business.

What was the Kop's reaction? As Liverpool lost 1-0, loud chants of "We Want Roger!" were heard.

Hunt, who left Liverpool in December 1969 to join Bolton Wanderers, has remained in Liverpool's hearts ever since. He was the club's top scorer for eight consecutive seasons.

Anfield was packed to capacity in April 1972 when Liverpool hosted a Hunt testimonial match. Thousands were outside for the game against an England team that included his World Cup-winning colleagues Bobby Moore, George Cohen, Bobby Moore and Nobby Stiles.

Hunt received an MBE in 2000, but it was a late award. However, he had enjoyed his own knighthood from Liverpool's supporters for many years.

Hunt was also involved in the family's haulage business. The "Hunt Brothers", a fleet of lorries, is a familiar sight all over the north-west.

Although he rarely saw the limelight, he was remembered for being humble and modest, and never trading on his achievements for Liverpool and England. He was a gentleman and a great striker.


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