Jimmy Greaves, one of the best goalscorers in English football, has passed away. He was 81.
Tottenham Hotspur, where he played for nine years, announced his death on Sunday, but did not say where he died or name the cause.
Greaves suffered a minor stroke in 2012. His family thought he had made a full recovery, but in 2015 he suffered a more serious stroke.
Greaves is an all-round striker who is as adept at his head as he is with both feet. He scored 44 goals in just 57 appearances for England.
But even though he was the first player to top the league for three consecutive seasons, he is perhaps best known for one game he missed: the World Cup final.
Greaves was England’s star striker who entered the 1966 tournament on home soil. But he was injured in a first round match against France and gave up his place in the lineup to Geoff Hurst.
Hurst scored the only goal in England’s quarter-final win over Argentina and kept his place in the team at the expense of Greaves. Hurst achieved lasting fame by scoring the first hat-trick in a World Cup final; Greaves famously sat unmoved on the bench as England celebrated their 4-2 win over West Germany at the final whistle.
Substitutions were not allowed at the time and squad members were not awarded medals, as they have at World Cups since 1974. A fan campaign led to the awarding of medals to Greaves and 10 other members of the squad, known as the “forgotten heroes”, in 2009. Greaves sold his 18-carat medal at auction in 2014 for £44,000 (approximately $60,000). ).
“It was devastating to me not to play in the final,” Greaves said in 2009. “I always believed we would win the World Cup and be part of it, but I wasn’t.”
James Peter Greaves was born on February 20, 1940 in East London. He started playing for Chelsea when he was 17.
At 20 years and 290 days, he became the youngest player to score 100 league goals in English football. He scored 41 goals, a club record, in the 1960-61 season to secure a lucrative transfer to AC Milan.
He scored nine goals in 12 games with Milan, but did not settle in Italy, instead ending his short stay to return to London at Tottenham, where he would spend the next nine years, scoring 266 goals in 380 games a club record.
Tottenham’s manager, Bill Nicholson, paid £99,999 for Greaves – to spare him the pressure, he said, of being England’s first £100,000 player.
The move apparently worked: Greaves scored a hat-trick in his opening game, a 5-2 win over Blackpool and helped Tottenham retain the Football Association Cup.
In 1963, he scored twice in a 5-1 win over Atletico Madrid in the European Cup Winners Cup, a win that made Tottenham the first British team to win a European trophy. He was the top scorer of the First Division – a feat he would repeat in 1964, 1965 and 1969.
Greaves moved to West Ham in 1970, trading for his former England team-mate Martin Peters. He retired at the end of the season with a record 357 goals in 516 league matches.
He made a brief comeback for nonleague club Barnet in 1978, but soon retired and switched to television. He hosted Britain’s long-running Saturday show “Saint and Greavsie” with former Liverpool player Ian St. John.
Information on survivors was not immediately available.