Jimmy Greaves, a true Tottenham legend (1940-2021)
Jimmy Greaves, who has died on Sunday (19th Sept), will be remembered as a true legend, a phenomenon, pioneer and pundit and, of course, one of the greatest natural goalscorers this country has ever produced, or I’ve ever seen.
Yes, I first set eyes on him when he played for Chelsea against us in the late 50s, early 60s. Of course, I didn’t know who he was as he was one of many players playing for Chelsea at the time and who were taking on what will become one of the greatest Spurs sides of all time. However, I fully took stock of him when I was about six years old in 1961 when he joined us for the fee of £99,999.00 from AC Milan. It wasn’t just me who stood up and took notice, but the world. On that day of his arrival, I was in the Spurs car park, and I remember him ruffling my hair as he passed by. That wasn’t the last time I had personal contact with him either. The players often met up in a café near the ground where my dad took me for a prematch meal. And this was for most seasons. I even visited his house once (or was it more often?). He was somebody you could easily talk to and was easily approachable. In those days, some of the players, even Bill Nicholson, took the bus or walked to White Hart Lane, unthinkable in today’s society.
I remember him and John White and many others having a kick about with a tennis ball – which somebody produced – for a few minutes before entering the stadium. They didn’t just walk past us kids but interacted with us. Not like now, the best you can hope for is a signature.
Over the years, we got familiar with him, and if he saw us, he would acknowledge us by either winking or waving (or having your hair ruffled).
Yes, he had a glittering career at club level with Chelsea, AC Milan, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. As for his accomplishments for England, he remains fourth in the list of all-time goalscorers behind Wayne Rooney, Sir Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker with 44 goals in 57 games. A remarkable man, a remarkable footballing talent. I mentioned those great names, but apart from Bobby Charlton, they had never played on some of the most appalling pitches in Britain. If he was playing today, those figures would have probably doubled.
However, most people remember the devastating sadness of him missing England’s 1966 World Cup final win over West Germany at Wembley. This was because he failed to gain his (rightful) place from Geoff Hurst following an injury. Hurst went on to score a hat-trick in England’s 4-2 victory over the West Germans. However, if England had lost against Germany, then Alf Ramsey’s name would have been mud for not recalling Greavsie to the final. That probably could have been his last as manager for England. I was at that game and remember the disappointment that Jimmy Greaves wasn’t playing. I remember thinking that Alf Ramsey had lost us the final, as most people did at the time.
After all his success with Tottenham and then playing for West Ham afterwards, he retired, but that wasn’t the end, oh, no, you can’t keep a great man down. He fought alcoholism and went on to forge an immensely successful TV career that cemented his standing as one of the game’s most popular and enduring personalities of all time.
After he left Spurs, I never met him personally again, however, I was at a few presentations he was at. I did meet his son a few years ago and had a good chat with him. By that time, his dad’s health was in decline.
Jimmy Greave joined us from AC Milan after we outbid Chelsea with an offer of £99,999 – Bill Nicholson would not pay the last pound because he did not want Jimmy to be shackled with the tag of being England’s first £100,000 footballer. And as history shows, It was worth every penny as Greaves’ goalscoring powers made him a Spurs legend, a record 266 goals in 379 games in all competitions for the Club.
He won the FA Cup twice for us, scoring in a 3-1 win over Burnley in 1962 and playing in the 2-1 win against Chelsea in 1967 (both games I was at). He also helped us become the first British team to win a European trophy; the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963, scoring twice as we beat Atletico Madrid 5-1 in the final in Rotterdam. Too young to travel, I remember watching that match on TV. I know that my dad was offered a ticket for the final, but he didn’t go for whatever reason.
We also mustn’t forget that the 60s was an era renowned for its hard men such as Norman Hunter, Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris and Tommy Smith. Jimmy Greaves mixed instinctive courage and goalscoring intelligence that made him a striker of unquestionable ability. He scored 220 league goals in just under a 10-year career, making 331 appearances before leaving for the Spammers, which also saw Martin Peters coming to us.
He broke many hearts when he left us, which also saw anger directed at the Club for letting him go.
In 2009 Greaves received a medal for being part of the 1966 World Cup-winning team; only the playing 11 were awarded gongs in those days.
A move to West Ham in 1970 saw Jimmy Greaves’ descent into alcoholism (actually, his drinking habits started well before then). He finally stopped drinking in February 1978 and never touched alcohol again.
After his playing days, he joined up with Ian St John on ‘Saint And Greavsie’, which ran from 1985 to 1992.
In later years Jimmy Greaves took part in speaking events. He was officially inducted into Tottenham’s Hall of Fame along with Steve Perryman at a ceremony in April 2016.
In 1972 Tottenham awarded him a Testimonial game against Feyenoord, a game I witnessed personally, and I remember tears in my eyes.
A remarkable man, a remarkable player, whom I had the pleasure of personally seeing play and meeting outside of the game. Long may he remembered; RIP Jimmy Greaves.
Jimmy Greaves MBE 1940 to 2021
Tottenham Hotspur 1961-1970
Appearances: 379. Goals: 266.
FA Cup winner 1962, 1967
European CWC winner 1963
The Club’s all-time record goalscorer
Be safe, Glenn
My name is Glenn Renshaw.
I am currently a Premium Season Ticket holder (West Stand) in the new stadium. Before that – at White Hart Lane – a season ticket holder in various parts of the ground (mainly in the North stand).
Before becoming a season ticket holder, I stood on the shelf and various other parts of the ground since the 1960s (the season of the double). In 1987 I became one of the first to hold a Spurs Membership card. I was also a life long member of the Spurs supporters club (now defunct).
I go to all home, away and abroad matches.
I was born in 1955, Edgware, London. I currently live in Berkshire.
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