Sir Geoff Hurst and Kevin Keegan led the tribute to Roger Hunt at the funeral of the Liverpool League top scorer.
Former club teammates and senior executives, including CEO Billy Hogan, joined Hunt’s family to celebrate the hour-long service at Liverpool Cathedral.
Hurst was absent, but his eulogy for his fellow 1966 world champion, who died last month at the age of 83, was read by Liverpool Chaplain Bill Bygroves, in which he said, “What kind of a player he was; up there with Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Kevin Keegan and Mo Salah.
“We always had great banter between us. I once said to him: ‘Have you ever scored goals with your head?’. He responded months later, systematically going through games he’d scored with his head.
“His favorite statement for me was ‘While you were scoring goals and making headlines, I was tracking and doing the defensive work’ – which of course I couldn’t deny because he was spot on.
“Roger was a great player, a very special person and a class that I had as an attacking partner, but above all as a friend. Rest in peace, ‘Sir Roger’. “
Keegan remembered how Hunt, who also played for Bolton, made his “England” debut in the 1972 testimonial of the former striker at Anfield between Liverpool’s 1965 team and an England 1966 XI that attracted more than 56,000 people with a another 10,000 locked out.
“I know he wasn’t an English coach, but Alan Ball withdrew from his testimonial and” [Hunt] came to find me on the training ground to ask if I would play for him. I’ll never forget the night, ”said Keegan.
However, the former Reds striker felt the appreciation that should have been recognized by the club that night and throughout his career.
“Liverpool was founded in 1892. Only 19 players have scored over 100 league goals. You know them: Dalglish, Fowler, Barnes, Gerrard and Mo Salah only joined us 18 days ago, ”added Keegan.
“The 200 Club is more exclusive. There are only four members: Billy Liddell – 215, Ian Rush – 229, Gordon Hodgson scored 233 goals, but Roger Hunt is at the forefront.
“He was world champion in 1966. He was Liverpool’s top scorer for eight years. He scored the first goal of the game of the day. He scored five hat tricks in one season. I could go on and on.
“Why isn’t there a statue of Sir Roger Hunt at Kop End where he was knighted with something like ‘244 goals – catch me if you can’ as inspiration for everyone who comes by, the kids who play want? Football?
“If you did that, Roger would look down and want one of those kids to come over and he would like someone to play for Liverpool one day and one day overtake his record.”
Expressions of condolences have been expressed by Everton, Bolton, Real Madrid and FIFA President Gianni Infantino, among others.
Comedian Jimmy Tarbuck, a friend of Hunt, paid a simple tribute when he said: “To be born a gentleman is an accident, to die as one is an achievement.”
Hunt’s funeral procession, whose coffin was wrapped in a red Liverpool flag and adorned with white flowers, was applauded by large groups of fans outside Anfield, where the hearse paused, and at the entrance to the cathedral.
His wife Rowan, children David and Julie, stepchildren Katie and Wayne and the rest of the family were accompanied by 300 to 400 mourners to the service.
Liverpool’s hymn “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was sung during the service before Hunt’s coffin set off to the tune before a private ceremony at the Anfield Crematorium.