TOTTENHAM and England legend Jimmy Greaves has passed away at the age of 81.
Tributes poured in for the Spurs scoring hero, who struggled after a stroke for several years.
Spurs said in a statement: “We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of the great Jimmy Greaves.
“We offer our deepest condolences to Jimmy’s family and friends at this sad time. Rest in peace, Jimmy.”
Greaves was one of the most prolific top scorers the English and world game had seen.
After retiring from the game, he pursued a second career in television, presenting the hugely popular football show “Saint and Greavsie” with Ian St John, himself who passed away earlier this year.
Shortly after the announcement of his death, tributes began to be paid by footballers past and present.
Sir Geoff Hurst, who replaced Greaves in the 1966 squad and scored a hat-trick in the final triumph over West Germany, said Greaves was simply the greatest English striker who ever existed.
“There have been some great players, but forwards are judged on goals, and no one can touch him,” he said.
“I am asked if there is animosity between Jimmy and me, because I took his place? But not for a second.
“You hear the term genius, and that’s the only word that applies to Jimmy.”
Current Spurs and England striker Harry Kane paid tribute to “the true legend and one of the great scorers”.
Arsenal legend Ian Wright described how he was asked to copy Greaves in his youth.
âThe first football name I ever heard from my teacher. ‘No Ian! End up like Jimmy Greaves’ May he rest in peace,â he tweeted.
England manager Gareth Southgate has said there will be a tribute to Greaves when the team face Hungary at Wembley next month.
“Jimmy Greaves was someone who was admired by all who love football, regardless of their club stripes,” he said.
âI had the privilege of being able to meet Jimmy’s family last year at Tottenham Hotspur as the club celebrated their 80th anniversary. My thoughts are with them and I know the whole game will mourn his passing.
“Jimmy certainly deserves to be included in any list of England’s top players, given his status as one of our greatest goal scorers and his role in our 1966 World Cup success.”
Greaves suffered a stroke in May 2015 that left him in a wheelchair and with severe speech impairment.
Tottenham said he died at home on Sunday morning.
The club paid tribute to Greaves’ “phenomenal strike rate”.
He was England’s top top scorer by a domestic mile, despite retiring from professional play at 31, which made him even more remarkable.
Greaves was England’s top scorer in six different seasons.
He also held the all-time record of 366 goals in Europe’s top five leagues, which spanned no less than 46 years.
He was only eclipsed by Cristiano Ronaldo in Real Madrid’s stunning 2016-17 campaign.
Yet he was no mere goal machine, remarkable only for an avalanche of statistics.
He was also a highly regarded television presenter, professional television critic, stand-up comedian, anecdotal and storyteller, and an inspiring fighter against alcoholism.
You hear the term genius, and that’s the only word that applies to Jimmy.
Sir Geoff Hurst
James Peter Greaves, son of an underground driver in Manor Park, east London, February 20, 1940.
He was a teenage sensation at Chelsea and one of the first overseas pioneers during a brief stint at AC Milan.
But he is probably best known as an insatiable goalscorer for nine years at Tottenham, where he will win two FA Cups.
He was also part of the first British team to win a European trophy when Spurs won the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963.
Greaves was an exceptional dribbler capable of individual efforts Ã la Messi, but he elevated the goal of poaching to art.
While his England goalscoring record was exceptional, Greaves would be a spectator of the biggest game in his country’s history, the 1966 World Cup final, after scratching his shin in the last group game against the France.
For the quarter-final he was replaced by Geoff Hurst, who scored the game-winning goal against Argentina.
While Greaves was only approaching his peak form by the time the final against West Germany, Alf Ramsey stuck with Hurst and the rest was history.
Jimmy Greaves’ career in numbers
114 – goals scored for the youth team after signing for Chelsea in 1956.
17 – Greaves’ age when he made his first-team debut for Chelsea, scoring in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham.
100 – number of league goals Greaves had scored at the age of 20. The youngest player remains to reach the benchmark.
99,999 – the pound fee paid by Tottenham to sign Greaves from AC Milan in 1961.
132 – goals for Chelsea in 169 games.
44 – goals scored for England in 57 appearances. He is still fourth on the all-time list behind Wayne Rooney (53), Bobby Charlton (49) and Gary Lineker (48).
6 – England’s hat tricks are still a record today.
41 – The number of goals for Chelsea in 40 league appearances in the 1960/61 season is still a club record at Stamford Bridge.
266 – Goals for Tottenham in 379 appearances means Greaves remains Spurs’ top scorer.
Contrary to popular belief, Greaves was not bitter to miss that famous 4-2 win and treble hero Hurst was a longtime friend.
The footballing moment that caused him such devastation came in 1970 when Spurs boss Bill Nicholson transferred him to West Ham as part of a swap deal involving Martin Peters.
His stay at Upton Park was brief and unrewarding. Greaves retired the following year – only returning as a non-league midfielder a few years later.
When alcoholism took hold of him, he admitted that the years 1974 to 1978 were “lost” for him.
Meanwhile, Greaves divorced Irene – his teenage girlfriend and the mother of his five children.
They married when they were both 18 and when Jimmy was a striker with Chelsea, earning Â£ 17 a week and Â£ 100 if he played for England.
But the couple were soul mates who never really went their separate ways, officially remarrying in 2017, only because they “never got down to it” 30 or 40 years earlier.
As a footballer and later TV personality, Greaves seemed to have an extended family of millions.
He was half of Saint and Greavsie, the hugely popular ITV football show that he co-hosted with Ian St John from 1985 to 1992 – where his perennial slogan “It’s a funny old game” was invented.
Back in the days when football didn’t always take itself so seriously, the duo once managed to persuade Donald Trump to proceed with the draw for the League Cup quarter-finals.
For nearly two decades with ITV, his other long-term role was that of TV critic for TV: AM.
And after that, Greaves continued to tour theaters as a gifted storyteller – his comedic timing almost as precise as his instinct to fill sacks of onions.
In all, he contributed to brilliant columns for The Sun and The Sunday People at 35.
His opinions were often sharp and cynical, and he had a tremendous talent for debunking football myths, as well as excommunicating some of the game’s “saints” with earthy stories.
According to Greaves, all footballers were cheaters, all discussions of tactics were overblown because playing football was basically “chaos”.
And all the managers were enriched racketeers every time they were fired for failure.
Greaves never touched a drop of alcohol after 1978 and yet he fought temptation every day, claiming he was as aware of his condition as a man who had to screw a wooden leg every day of his life. life.
Yet paradoxically, he continued to be the life and soul of the boozy halls as an after-dinner speaker, as well as at newspaper Christmas lunches.