Jimmy Greaves, England’s deadliest striker | Football news
With 366 goals in 528 top-level appearances for Chelsea, AC Milan, Tottenham and West Ham, he scored more goals in Europe’s top five leagues than any other player until Cristiano Ronaldo finally surpassed his total in 2017.
Greaves also found the net 44 times for England and while a leg injury kept him from playing in the 1966 World Cup final victory over West Germany, his Breathtaking hit rate has ensured the security of its legacy.
Only Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker and record holder Wayne Rooney have scored more goals in England than Greaves.
“I had a goal drought once,” Greaves used to joke in an after-dinner speech. “The worst 15 minutes of my career.”
A short, quick and remarkably confident player, Greaves infallibly kicked the ball with both feet and was renowned for determining his finish, often going around the goalkeeper to score.
“When he put the ball into the penalty area the world stopped,” recalled Greaves’ former West Ham teammate Harry Redknapp.
âIt was as if someone had pressed pause on the TV screen.
“The action around him continued, but Jim seemed to be operating in another dimension; slower, calmer, rendering his mind oblivious to the surrounding frenzy.”
His 266 goals in 379 games for Tottenham make him the club’s all-time top scorer and he has also scored 132 times in 169 games for Chelsea.
Fifty years after retiring from professional football, his scoring exploits still rank among the best of modern sports stars.
Raised in Hainaut, north-east London, Greaves joined Chelsea as a teenager, made his debut at 17 and had scored 100 league goals by the age of 20.
Italian giants Milan signed him in June 1961 for the then-substantial sum of Â£ 80,000 ($ 121,600), but despite nine goals in 12 Serie A games, he failed to settle in Lombardy.
In December he was back in London with Tottenham, who secured his services for Â£ 99,999.
The flat rate was devised by Spurs manager Bill Nicholson, who did not want to place the onus on Greaves of being the first six-figure player in English football.
So began the great love story of Greaves’ career.
He won two FA Cups at White Hart Lane, scoring against Burnley in the 1962 final, and scored two goals in a 5-1 loss to Atletico Madrid in the Cup Winners’ Cup final European 1963, which made Spurs England the first continental trophy winners.
He was England’s top scorer in six seasons, but on the international stage, fortune was going to give him up in the cruelest way.
He started the 1966 World Cup at home as a guaranteed start, but a nasty foul from Frenchman Joseph Bonnel left him with a shin injury that cost him his place in the squad.
Greaves was fit to play in the final, but manager Alf Ramsey persevered with West Ham’s Geoff Hurst who etched his name into English football folklore with a winning hat-trick.
âI danced on the pitch with everyone, but even in this moment of triumph and great happiness, deep inside I felt my sadness,â Greaves said later.
Greaves struggled with alcoholism towards the end of his high-profile career, which ended at West Ham.
After his retirement, he wrote a longtime column in the tabloid newspaper The Sun and appeared as half of ‘Saint and Greavesie’ in a televised double act with former Liverpool and Scotland striker Ian St John.
He survived a stroke in 2015 and received an MBE in 2020. He is survived by his wife, Irene, and their four children.