On the eve of the 1966 World Cup final, the England team went to the cinema. They strolled down the road, unnoticed, to watch Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines.
Alf Ramsey, Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst then walked back to their Hendon Hall hotel ahead of the defining day of their lives.
They stood on the brink of history, about to become the first – and only – England side to win the World Cup.
Hurst cemented himself in footballing legend by scoring a hat-trick in the 4-2 final victory against West Germany.
Still the only man to score three in a World Cup final, there are few who can compare themselves to him.
Then, though, 24-hour social media was a distant dream, there were no rolling TV channels and, when he retired, Hurst ran a pub – the Sheet Anchor in Stoke. All slightly different to today’s megastars.
He admits player power has grown with the money in the game and with the current England squad so scrutinised the spotlight is forever on.
But Hurst knows from that walk on a late July evening he wouldn’t swap it for the world.
“It would be impossible to do that now,” says Hurst, who was knighted in 1998.
“We went to Hendon, the 22-man squad plus the staff, walked all the way there, sat in the cinema, watched a long film and went all the way home. I can’t remember anyone asking for an autograph, getting their phone out – not that they could – or taking a picture.
“It’s just one instance where the game has changed astonishingly from then to now.
“Some of the players on the morning of the game walked to one of the other little towns nearby just for a cup of coffee and a stretch of the legs without anyone stopping them. It was astonishing. Envy is not a word I have in my vocabulary, I don’t envy players now. I played at a good time for the game, winning the World Cup and did well at West Ham.
“Manchester United won the European Cup in 1968 and Celtic the year before, so it was a great time for the game in general. I don’t give it a second thought and good luck to the players.
“Players today are in one of the most powerful and successful businesses and leagues in the world in the Premier League.
“They have just signed a new television contract for the rights and the players are an important part of it, so they get their share of what the business is worth. It’s a lot of money, but the Premier League is worth a lot of money.
“It was easier to manage in those times when the clubs and the managers had the power, more so than today. The players have a lot more power today and it’s becoming more difficult to manage the multi-millionaire players than it’s ever been.”
With Wayne Rooney’s future finally resolved, England will be desperately hoping his problems are behind him as the road to Brazil enters the home straight.
Roy Hodgson has been in charge over a year after leaving Albion and oversaw a satisfactory Euro 2012 before leading England into their World Cup qualifying campaign.
No European country has won the trophy outside their own continent and Hurst does not see the hunt ending.
But he believes England, should they qualify, should not be written off.
“I can’t see them winning it, but if everyone is fit then we can still do well,” said the 71-year-old. “You have got to fancy Brazil or Argentina. Argentina and Uruguay have got two fantastic front players (Messi and Suarez), but you can never say never about England.
“I always try to take positives, you get attacked with so many negative questions.
“I thought we’d do well in the Euros and people thought I was a senile old idiot. I am always positive; people look to the negative side of things and I may appear to be stupid, but I always think we’re going to do well.
“You can’t see us winning it; no European side has won the World Cup outside of Europe and Brazil had a great tournament in the Confederations Cup when they won it this year.
“They have some very talented players and Argentina are always a hell of a threat.
“I think if England got to the quarter-finals in this stage of our development it would be a good sign. And with a bit of luck they could go slightly beyond that.”
England host Poland on Tuesday, their final game of the qualifying campaign, knowing a win would clinch their place in Brazil next summer. ??????????
Hodgson has not been universally welcomed by fans or critics, but Hurst believes there could be no better man to take England forward.
“He is one of the few managers we’ve had who has been an international manager in another country,” he says.
“That has got to be a great experience for him. The national job is a difficult one, because we have got a lot of foreign players in the Premier League.
“He has got a much smaller base of players to pick from than Alf Ramsey did in our time.
“It’s a tough job. He’s off to a good start and it’s important we qualify. Any manager will be judged on whether we qualify or not from that group.
“We’ve got one left at home, after last night, and we are on the way to qualifying.
“People say he wasn’t the first choice, but in many respects he was the obvious choice because of his background.
“What he’s achieved in England in the last few years prior to getting the job was good.
“He did well at Fulham and at West Brom he did a very good job. He earned the right for me to be the England manager – because of his vast experience.
“I’ve known him for 20 or 30 years and he is a terrific footballing man. You listen to him talk and he talks a great deal of sense.”
Hodgson is fighting with a dwindling pool of English players in the Premier League with only 36 per cent eligible to play for England last season – compared to 61 per cent of domestic players in Spain.
The opening of St George’s Park last year at least gives Hodgson, and the country, hope about the future.
England’s drop to 14th in the world rankings this summer was almost greeted with relief that there was no more false belief the Three Lions were among the top 10 teams on the planet.
Their position is finally a realistic one given the constant anti-climaxes and near-misses since Hurst’s historic moment.
Failure – and embarrassment in an exit at the hands of Germany at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa – only strengthened the public clamour to improve England’s youth development.
Plans were already in place and running – driven by Nick Levett, national development manager for youth football – before the flop.
But Hurst admits it could be a decade before England reap the benefit from St George’s.
“It’s a fantastic area and the quality of coaching alongside that will help. The big question is: Will it develop players to play for the national side? In 10 years I’d hope so, but it’s about the quality of coaching,” said Hurst, who scored 249 goals in 502 appearances for West Ham.
“I was very lucky I was at West Ham and we had one of the best coaches ever. Harry Redknapp will still tell you Ron Greenwood was the best coach he has ever seen.
“You cannot underestimate that and he produced three players in the World Cup team – the captain and two goalscorers. You can’t tell me it’s not important to have a good coach to teach you.
“It’s not an overnight thing. What we need at the top level is to produce a greater number of world-class players for the national side in the key areas – which we had.
“Trevor (Brooking) said it would be 10 years.
“He was at the Houses of Parliament earlier this summer, half-asleep leaning on a window I think and not expecting anything.
“But someone asked him to come forward and off the top of his head he spoke for about 10 or 15 minutes and one of the key things he said, for me, was we are maybe 10 or 15 years behind the Germans.
“You look at the German method, with club sides and the national team doing well, and that is a bit of a blueprint for us in a way.
“Football goes in cycles. Spain were dominant a long time; all of a sudden in the semi-final of the Champions League last season the Germans whitewashed them. Hopefully our cycle won’t be too far away.
“Trevor told the FA that the people who know all these things, the scientists, say that if you don’t know all these skills then it passes you by and you don’t become as good.
“Kids learn a language easier. If you try to learn a language when you are 35 or 40 it’s a bit of a difference.
“I was with my grandson the other day, he’s seven and I was just throwing him a tennis ball.
“His father isn’t interested in sport, so for his age he’s not as co-ordinated as other kids who may spend time doing it.
“It’s about doing it at a young age, not necessarily football.
“I’d advocate parents to take their kids anywhere, to any sport.”
Hurst, who lives in Cheltenham, won 49 caps and scored 24 goals for England and is an active advocate for youth development.
And he knows the other end of the scale after admitting he was past his best during his season with Albion in the 1970s.
He helped the Baggies to promotion from Division Two in 1975-76 under Johnny Giles after joining from Stoke for £20,000.
After leaving for brief spells at Seattle Sounders and Cork City, he retired.
For someone steeped in history Hurst has few regrets, but he knows Baggies supporters never saw the best of a legend.
“I think the over-riding memory was that I was past my best then. I probably should have packed up at Stoke,” he said.
“I always decided I was going to finish at the top and felt in my period then I wasn’t as good.
“Time and tide wait for no man and I was about 35 then. I could have gone on and played four or five more years, but I always felt once I couldn’t keep to the same standard I was then – it was about March that year – I was going to retire.
“They went up that year and I enjoyed my time with Johnny Giles, but sadly I couldn’t give my best to the club because I was getting on a bit.”
He became Telford manager in 1976 before joining Chelsea three years later.
Hurst struggled with the Blues’ perilous financial situation and was sacked in 1981. And it is his time at the Bucks he remembers more fondly.
“They are the results I look for – West Ham, Telford, West Brom and Stoke,” said Hurst.
“I spent a lot of my time in the Midlands with those clubs. It’s disappointing to see any club struggle, especially one you spent some good years at.
“I enjoyed being a manager and the board had the best interest of the club at heart. It was a great experience for me to start my management career. We finished third in the league in the final year.
“The one thing I learned was not to treat the players as part-time. I gave them a bit too much licence because they had a job during the day and it wasn’t until the third year I realised that.
“I remember having a team meeting at the end of the second season and saying I agreed to a lot of requests to turn up late. I used the term: ‘I’ll be swinging a few Nos out from now on.’”