Football clubs paid tribute to Jimmy Greaves after it was announced on Sunday, that he’d passed away at the age of 81. During his career, he played for Chelsea, AC Milan, Tottenham and West Ham United.
For England, he sits in fourth in a list of all-time goalscorers, netting 44 goals in 57 matches – which includes six hattricks.
He made his debut with Chelsea age 17, in the late 1950’s – a part of the group dubbed ‘Drake’s Ducklings’ at the club. In that debut he scored against Tottenham Hotspurs at White Hart Lane – a team, he would later go on to play for.
In his time at Stamford Bridge, he scored 124 league goals, a spell lasting four years in royal blue. Although his exploits at Spurs are fondly remembered the most, where he scored a club record 220 league goals.
At the beginning of Sunday’s fixture between Tottenham and Chelsea, both sides paid tribute to a player who brought so much to both clubs. Poignantly fitting that this fixture took place on the same day of his passing.
England manager, Gareth Southgate honoured the World Cup-winning player in 1966, saying: “Jimmy Greaves was someone who was admired by all who love football, regardless of club allegiances.
“Jimmy certainly deserves inclusion in any list of England’s best players, given his status as one of our greatest goalscorers and his part in our 1966 World Cup success.”
Southgate also announced that the England team will pay tribute to Jimmy Greaves when they play Hungary at Wembley on 12 October.
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@StamfordChidge has written a brilliant article on Football.London about Jimmy Greaves today which is well worth your time with words from Chelsea legends Bobby Tambling & @Real_KerryDixon.
Here is a snippet of what Stamford Chidge wrote.
My mother-in-law watched him from the Shed End for those four years and would tell me just how good he was, with a twinkle in her eye.
Before the Spurs v Chelsea match, Martin Tyler, the Sky Sports commentator went so far as to say that Jimmy Greaves was “the greatest player Chelsea have ever had.”
Whether we agree with that or not, Chelsea and the football community has lost one of its brightest ever stars and a bona fide legend. But above all of that, Greaves was a great personality, a man of the people and a wonderfully down to earth, human character; flawed in life like so many of us, but God-like in his natural football talent like very few, if any of us are.
“I was only little when Jimmy Greaves left for Milan but had been to enough games with my dad to love him. He was my hero. Especially if you were a Chelsea mad seven-year-old like me. 43 goals in 43 matches in his last season made a huge impression on me. I was at his last game against Nottingham Forest where he scored four. I have no memory of any of the goals other than that he was chaired off the pitch in his final game”
There was great anticipation surrounding the 17-year-old’s league debut and he certainly lived up to the hype. Not only did he score the Blues equaliser with five minutes remaining to earn a point, but he also went on a dazzling run leaving five Spurs defenders in his wake and was only foiled by a brave dive by Spurs ‘keeper Reynolds. Manager Ted Drake later said of the move: “It was quite the most fantastic thing I’ve seen for a long time. “Jimmy beat man after man and the crowd rose spontaneously to him in a way I’ve never seen before”. Chelsea had endured a terrible start to the campaign with Stan Wicks forced to retire and Frank Blunstone breaking a leg before a ball was kicked in anger. But this skinny little kid gave every Blues fan hope.
Jimmy was the first superstar to emerge from the Chelsea Juniors project, ten years after its launch in 1947/48, and it’s hard to deny claims to him being the Blues’ greatest ever youth product.
He didn’t achieve the glory others such as John Terry and the current crop have managed, but that was the club’s failure, not his. Over his four seasons at the Bridge, he complained that as many as he put in at one end the defence would concede at the other.
A case in point is the five goals he scored against Preston. The first three came before half-time, at which point he told his teammates, ‘I’ve done my bit, now it’s your turn.’ Soon the Blues were pegged back to 3-3, so Jim scored again. Preston levelled at 4-4 but, incredibly, the marksman struck again.
Great players leave indelible marks. No one has beaten his record of being the league’s youngest centurion and top scorer, and no one at Chelsea has bettered his 114 youth level goals in 1956/57, not his 43-goal top-flight tally in 1960/61. He also scored the small matter of 13 hat-tricks.
Chelsea long life fan Roger Asling (@youarehaving) gave us a few minutes of his time to talk about a man he felt was a hero of his.
“It was in 1961, last game of the season and I was 14 years old. I was at the bridge to witness the late and great Jimmy greaves last match for Chelsea, I was there with my mates in the shed end, the ground was packed and the crowd was buzzing.
The club made Greavsie the captain for the day as it was his final game for the club before moving to Italy to play for AC Milan. (I was excited but also sad to be losing such a genius). The game was against Nottingham Forest, end to end stuff….. We came out the 4-3 winners and the man himself scored all 4 goals! On the train back to Southfields, we couldn’t stop talking about it! Happy but sad at the same time.
I followed his career after that, if I remember rightly his time in Italy was not the happiest. On his return home, even further sadness for me when Jimmy joined Spurs. He was such a fantastic player and had a huge personality along with a wonderful sense of humour, I admired him and his talent was without question. I also saw him play for England on a few occasions.
Gone but never forgotten RIP Greavsie.”