Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Extraordinary Day I'll Never Forget; England Hero Celebrates in His Own Words and Pictures

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Extraordinary Day I'll Never Forget; England Hero Celebrates in His Own Words and Pictures

Article excerpt

Byline: JASON LEONARD

I WAS lucky enough to collect a television award for 'TV Moment of the Year' on behalf of the England team from Sir Geoff Hurst on the eve of the parade through London and he made it very clear that my life had now changed forever.

His triumph in 1966 had that effect on his life and he was certain the England rugby players would experience the same change - and after travelling through London in the open-topped bus yesterday, I know what he is talking about.

There I was yesterday evening, walking towards No10 Downing Street carrying the Webb Ellis Cup to show it to the Prime Minister, Tony Blair. How different is that!

Just a couple of hours earlier, I had met the Queen along with my partner Sandra and the rest of the squad to confirm that this was an extraordinary day, one I will never forget. I've been lucky enough to meet the Queen on a couple of occasions but this was extra special, arriving as part of the World Cupwinning squad.

It was only a short distance from Trafalgar Square where our bus trip ended with a sea of faces and endless flags and banners.

I did think that once the parade was out of the way, it would be a case of getting back to normal, but I am not sure that can happen because it made such a huge impact on all the players. What we achieved will be life changing.

When the open-topped bus went through Marble Arch and turned into Oxford Street I can honestly say I'd never seen anything like it.

No matter how many times people said "Oh, there are going to be 500,000 people in the streets" you can't really picture that in your mind's eye.

It really was amazing because people were hanging out of buildings, climbing scaffolding, clinging to the branches of trees and clambering onto bus shelters. We were gobsmacked.

I don't believe a smile left the face of any of the players for the entire journey because we were just swept away by the whole occasion. …

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