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Sir Geoff Hurst believes Gareth Southgate will remain the best option to lead England forward after Euro 2024, despite the national team boss indicating it could be his final tournament if the team fails to lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy.

Hurst, the last surviving member of England’s victorious 1966 World Cup side, said it would take a calamity in Germany for circumstances to dictate a change in manager, as he praised Southgate’s record in charge as “better than anything since ’66”.

England begin their campaign against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday seeking to exorcise the memory of their heartbreaking defeat on penalties to Italy in the final at Wembley three years ago, with their trophy-less run now extending back 58 years since Hurst’s hat-trick helped beat West Germany to earn the country its sole tournament success.

England head coach Gareth Southgate smiling at training
England head coach Gareth Southgate’s future after Euro 2024 is uncertain (Adam Davy/PA)

“I think he (Southgate) remains the best option,” Hurst told the PA news agency. “But I can fully understand if he doesn’t win it with this bunch of players – and he’s had probably more games than any other manager apart from one or two – that maybe it suits him (to leave). I don’t think necessarily it suits England.

“I think he’s the best man for it, ongoing. It may be his decision himself, that maybe it’s time to go.”

Hurst, who in advance of the tournament has ‘blessed’ 12 million cans of Budweiser as part of a campaign urging Southgate and his players to ‘bring it home’, was a substitute as England were knocked out of the 1968 European Championship in the semi-finals by Yugoslavia, two years after being crowned world champions.

It was to be the first in a long line of disappointments with England having finished empty handed from the 21 major tournament finals they have qualified for since 1966.

Sir Geoff Hurst
Sir Geoff Hurst (pictured) believes Gareth Southgate is the right man to lead England forward after Euro 2024 (PA)

Southgate is the 13th permanent manager since World Cup-winner Sir Alf Ramsey and has the best tournament record of any boss since the nation’s single triumph, having led the team to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and the Euro 2020 final.

“No way in the world would you have thought that 60 years on after winning that we wouldn’t be there again. No question,” said Hurst, whose number 10 shirt from that day at Wembley was hung above the Budweiser production line to ensure the batch was ‘touched by greatness’.

“Prior to ’66, there wasn’t the expectation. Clubs weren’t competing in Europe, we hadn’t been to a couple of World Cups, we’d lost to the USA in 1950. An absolute disaster.

Sir Geoff Hurst
Sir Geoff Hurst has “blessed” 12million cans ahead of the Euros (PA)

“But since then, the expectation has made a gigantic leap forward. We’re expected to be close every time, and of course we haven’t been until Southgate, who has done far, far better than anything we’ve done since ’66.”

The build-up to England’s Euro 2024 campaign has been dominated by selection talk with Southgate having a number of difficult decisions to make, most notably who to play in midfield alongside Declan Rice.

The manager also has the headache of whom to field from an extensive roster of attacking players, while injuries in central defence and at left-back have further complicated things.

“We’ve got a tremendous number of terrific players, young players who, although they’re very experienced, have still got four or five years left (at the top),” said Hurst. “So fitness-wise and age-wise, it’s terrific.

“The difficulty is fitting a set number of players into 11. But he’s had a good look at them all and he’ll come up with it.

“Who fits in with Declan Rice? (Jude) Bellingham is going to come back and (Phil) Foden has had a good season as well. He’s spoiled for choice in many respects. It’s how he decides to play.”

The limited edition ‘Home’ cans which have been “blessed” by Hurst are now available in stores nationwide.