Jimmy Greaves

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Jimmy Greaves
Jimmy Greaves 2007.jpg
Greaves in 2007
Personal information
Full name James Peter Greaves
Date of birth (1940-02-20) 20 February 1940 (age 74)
Place of birth Manor Park East Ham, England
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)[1]
Playing position Striker
Youth career
1955–1957 Chelsea
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1957–1961 Chelsea 157 (124)
1961 A.C. Milan 12 (9)
1961–1970 Tottenham Hotspur 321 (220)
1970–1971 West Ham United 38 (13)
1975–1976 Brentwood
1976–1977 Chelmsford City
1977–1979 Barnet
1979–1980 Woodford Town
Total 528 (366)
National team
1957–196? England U23 12 (13)
1959–1967[2] England 57 (44)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

James Peter "Jimmy" Greaves (born 20 February 1940) is a former England international footballer and television pundit. He is England's third highest international goalscorer (44 goals), Tottenham Hotspur's highest ever goalscorer (268 goals), the highest goalscorer in the history of English top-flight football (366 goals), and has also scored more hat-tricks (six) for England than anyone else. He finished as the First Division's top-scorer in six separate seasons. He is a member of the English Football Hall of Fame.

He began his professional career at Chelsea in 1957, and played in the following year's FA Youth Cup final. He scored 124 First Division goals in just four seasons before being sold on to Italian club A.C. Milan for £80,000 in April 1961. His stay in Italy was not a happy one and he returned to England with Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of £99,999 in December 1961. Whilst with Spurs he won the FA Cup in 1962 and 1967, the Charity Shield in 1962 and 1967, and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963; he never won a league title but did help Spurs to a second place finish in 1962–63. He was traded to West Ham United in March 1970 and retired the following year. After a four year absence he returned to football at the non-league level, despite suffering from alcoholism. In a five year spell he played for Brentwood, Chelmsford City, Barnet, and Woodford Town.

He scored 13 goals in 12 England under-23 internationals and scored 44 goals in 57 full England internationals between 1959 and 1967. He played in the 1962 and 1966 FIFA World Cup, but was injured in the group stages of the 1966 World Cup and lost his first team place to Geoff Hurst in the final.

After retiring as a player he went on to enjoy a career in broadcasting, most notably working alongside Ian St. John on Saint and Greavsie from 1985 to 1992. He worked on a number of other sport shows on ITV during this period, including Sporting Triangles.

Club career[edit]


Though he was born in Manor Park, he was raised in Hainault, and was scouted playing schoolboy representative football by Chelsea's Jimmy Thompson and in 1955 was signed on as an apprentice to become one of "Drake's Ducklings", named after manager Ted Drake in response to Manchester United's "Busby Babes".[3] He soon made an impression at youth level, scoring 51 goals in the 1955–56 season and 122 goals in the 1956–57 season under the tutelage of youth team coach Dickie Foss.[4] He scored in the 1958 FA Youth Cup final, but Chelsea lost the two-legged tie 7–6 on aggregate after Wolverhampton Wanderers turned round a four goal deficit with a 6–1 win in the second leg.[5] He turned professional in the summer of 1957, though spent eight weeks working at a steel company to supplement his income during the summer break.[6]

Aged 17, he scored on his First Division debut on 24 August 1957 against Tottenham Hotspur in a 1–1 draw at White Hart Lane.[7] He was an instant success, as the News Chronicle reported that he "showed the ball control, confidence and positional strength of a seasoned campaigner" and compared his debut to the instant impact the young Duncan Edwards had as a teenager.[8] The "Blues" played attacking football during the 1957–58 campaign resulting in high-scoring matches, and Greaves ended the season as the club's top-scorer with 22 goals in 37 appearances.[9] Drake rested him for six weeks from mid-November as he did not wish the praise Greaves was receiving to go to his head, and he marked his return to the first team at Stamford Bridge with four goals in a 7–4 victory over Portsmouth on Christmas Day.[10]

He began the 1958–59 season strongly, and in the third match of the season he scored five goals past league champions Wolverhampton Wanderers in a 6–2 win.[11] Chelsea remained inconsistent, though despite his team finishing in 14th place Greaves managed to finish as the division's top-scorer with 32 goals in 44 league games.[12] Greaves scored 30 goals in 42 matches in the 1959–60 campaign, five of which came in a 5–4 victory over Preston North End.[13] Despite his goalscoring exploits the club could only manage an 18th place finish, three places and three points above the relegation zone.

In the 1960–61 season, Greaves scored hat-tricks against Wolves, Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City; he scored four goals against Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest; and hit five goals in a 7–1 win over West Bromwich Albion. His hat-trick against Manchester City on 19 November included his 100th league goal, making him the youngest player to pass the 100 goal mark at the age of 20 years and 290 days.[7] However he became increasingly disillusioned at Chelsea as an inability to defend effectively meant the club were a long way from launching a title challenge and they exited the FA Cup in embarrassing fashion by losing 2–1 at home to Fourth Division side Crewe Alexandra.[14] Club chairman Joe Mears agreed to sell Greaves as Chelsea were in need of extra cash.[15] His last game was the final game of the 1960–61 season on 29 April; he was made captain for the day and scored all four goals in a 4–3 win against Nottingham Forest.[7] This took his tally for the season to a club record 41 goals in 40 league games, making him the division's top-scorer.

A.C. Milan[edit]

Greaves was signed by Italian Serie A club A.C. Milan for an £80,000 fee, and was given a three-year contract on £140 a week with a £15,000 signing on fee.[16] However he was unhappy at the thought of leaving London and tried to cancel the move before it was fully confirmed, but "Rossoneri" manager Giuseppe Viani refused to annul the deal.[17] He scored on his debut in a 2–2 draw with Botafogo at the San Siro.[18] However he did not get on well with new head coach Nereo Rocco, who insisted on keeping the players in a strict training regime with little personal freedom.[19] Greaves scored nine goals in 14 appearances, including one goal against Inter Milan in the Milan derby.[20] Due to his low morale Greaves was transfer-listed and Brazilian attacker Dino Sani was signed as his replacement.[21] Both Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea made £96,500 bids, which were both accepted.[22] After he left the club went on to win the league title in 1961–62.

Tottenham Hotspur[edit]

After protracted negotiations Bill Nicholson signed Greaves for Tottenham Hotspur in December 1961 for £99,999 – the unusual fee was intended to relieve Greaves of the pressure of being the first £100,000 player in British football.[23] He joined Spurs just after they became the first club in England to complete the First Division and FA Cup double during the 20th century.[24] He played his first game in a Spurs shirt for the reserve team on 9 December 1961, and scored twice in a 4–1 win over Plymouth Argyle Reserves at Home Park.[25] He scored a hat-trick on his first team debut, including a flying scissor kick, in a 5–2 win over Blackpool at White Hart Lane.[26] He went on to feature in the semi-finals of the European Cup, having both a goal disallowed for offside in a 3–1 defeat to Benfica at the Estádio da Luz and another disallowed for offside in the return fixture, a 2–1 win at White Hart Lane.[27] He played in all seven games of the club's FA Cup run, scoring nine goals in the competition as they beat Birmingham City (after a replay), Plymouth Argyle, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Manchester United to reach the 1962 FA Cup Final against Burnley at Wembley. Greaves opened the scoring against Burnley on 3 minutes when he rolled a shot past goalkeeper Adam Blacklaw from a tight angle, and Spurs went on to win the game 3–1.[28][29] They finished the league in third-place in 1961–62, four points behind Ipswich Town.

He scored twice in the 1962 FA Charity Shield, as Spurs secured the trophy with a 5–1 win over Ipswich at Portman Road.[30] Spurs started the 1962–63 season strongly, and Greaves scored hat-tricks in 6–2 and 4–0 victories over Manchester United and Ipswich Town respectively, as well as four goals in a 9–2 win over Nottingham Forest.[31] They ended the season in poor form, despite Greaves scoring a hat-trick in a 5–2 win over Liverpool at Anfield, and finished the league in second-place, six points behind Everton. Greaves scored 37 goals in 41 league games, finishing as the division's top-scorer. In the European Cup Winners' Cup, Tottenham beat Rangers (Scotland), ŠK Slovan Bratislava (Czechoslovakia) and OFK Beograd (Yugoslavia) to reach the final, where they met Spanish club Atlético Madrid at De Kuip. In the first leg of the semi-final against Beograd in Belgrade, Greaves was sent off for violent conduct (his first and only red card) after attempting to punch centre-back Blagomir Krivokuća.[32] He served a one match ban and was able to play in the final, where he opened the scoring after an assist from Cliff Jones and later added a fourth in a 5–1 victory (John White and Terry Dyson getting the other goals).[33] In winning the competition Tottenham Hotspur became the first British team to win a European trophy.[34]

Manager Bill Nicholson and his assistant Eddie Baily then began a period of transition at White Hart Lane – key players such as Danny Blanchflower, John White and Dave Mackay were reaching their mid-30s and had to be replaced – which hindered the club's ability to win trophies in the short term.[35] Greaves remained a consistent goalscorer though, and in the 1963–64 season he scored hat-tricks in victories over Nottingham Forest, Blackpool, Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers. Spurs finished in fourth place, six points behind champions Liverpool, and exited the FA Cup and Cup Winners' Cup at the opening stages.[36] Greaves scored 35 goals in 41 league games to again finish as the division's top-scorer. Strike partner Bobby Smith left the club in the summer, though Greaves would form a highly effective partnership with new signing Alan Gilzean.[37]

Spurs finished sixth in 1964–65, though Greaves scored 29 goals in 41 league games to finish as the division's joint top-scorer (with Andy McEvoy). He also scored two hat-tricks in the FA Cup – against Torquay United and Ipswich Town  – to take his total tally to 35 goals in 45 appearances. He missed three months at the start of the 1965–66 season after being diagnosed with hepatitis,[38] but recovered to end the campaign with 16 goals in 31 matches, remaining the club's top-scorer as they posted an eighth place finish in the league whilst failing to make it past the Fifth Round of the FA Cup.

Greaves scored 31 goals in 47 appearances in the 1966–67 campaign, helping Spurs to launch a title challenge that ended with a third place finish, four points behind Manchester United. They also won the FA Cup after knocking out Millwall, Portsmouth, Bristol City, Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest to reach the 1967 FA Cup Final with Chelsea. Though he did not score in the final itself, a 2–1 victory, with six goals in eight games Greaves was the competition's leading scorer.[39] The 1967–68 season was a disappointing one for Spurs following their 3–3 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford in the 1967 FA Charity Shield. They finished seventh in the league, exited the FA Cup in the Fifth Round and were knocked out of the Cup Winners' Cup in the Second Round.[40] Greaves had a poor season by his high standards though with 29 goals in 48 appearances he was still the club's top-scorer.[41] Nicholson bought Greaves a new strike partner in Martin Chivers from Southampton for a club record £125,000 fee, with Gilzean dropping further back into midfield to accommodate, but Greaves and Chivers were not as effective together as he had hoped.[41]

In 1968–69, Greaves scored 27 goals in 42 league games to finish as the First Division's leading scorer for the sixth and final time.[42] He scored four of his goals in one match against Sunderland, and also scored hat-tricks against Burnley and Leicester City. His nine goals in cup competitions, including a hat-trick against Exeter City, left him with an overall goal tally of 36 in 52 games.[42] Spurs performed inconsistently in the 1969–70 season, and Greaves was dropped from the first team after playing in an FA Cup defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on 28 January 1970.[43] He was never recalled to the starting line-up, but still ended the season as the club's joint top-scorer (with Martin Chivers) having scored 11 goals in 33 matches.

He was given a testimonial match by Spurs on 17 October 1972 in a 2–1 win over Feyenoord at White Hart Lane; he made £22,000 from the occasion.[44]

West Ham United[edit]

In March 1970, Greaves (valued at £90,000) joined West Ham United in part-exchange in the deal, valued at £220,000, that took Martin Peters to White Hart Lane.[45] He later admitted his regret in making the move to Upton Park.[46] He scored two goals on his "Hammers" debut on 21 March, in a 5–1 win against Manchester City at Maine Road.[47]

In January 1971 with Bobby Moore, Brian Dear and Clyde Best, Greaves was involved in late-night drinking, against the wishes of manager Ron Greenwood, prior to a 4–0 FA Cup away defeat to Blackpool.[48] On arriving in Blackpool, Greaves and his team-mates had been informed by members of The Press that the game, the following day, was unlikely to go ahead due to a frozen pitch and the likelihood of frost that night. Believing that there would be no game the following day Greaves drank 12 lagers in a club owned by Brian London and did not return to the team hotel until 1.45am. Although they lost the game, Greaves claimed it was not as a result of the late night, the drinking or the frozen pitch but because the West Ham team in which he was playing was not good enough. As a result the players were fined and dropped by the club.[49] He was struggling with his fitness and his motivation. He felt he had become a journeyman footballer and that apart from Moore, Geoff Hurst, Billy Bonds and Pop Robson few of his team-mates could play good football. Towards the end of his career with West Ham he began to drink more and more alcohol, often going straight from training in Chadwell Heath to a pub in Romford where he would remain until closing time. He was in the early stages of alcoholism.[50] His final game came on 1 May 1971 in a 1–0 home defeat to Huddersfield Town.[51] Greaves scored 13 goals in 40 games in all competitions for West Ham.[51]

Later career and alcoholism[edit]

After leaving West Ham Greaves left football and for two years he did not touch a football or attend a game and he put on weight.[52] Drinking formed a large part of his life and he became an alcoholic; at times he was drinking 20 pints of lager during the day and consuming a bottle of vodka in the evening.[52] He was also regularly driving whilst drunk.[53] Seeking an answer to his alcoholism, Greaves decided to return to football at a lower level where he would not be required to be as fit as he had been whilst playing in the Football League. He started playing for his local side, Brentwood,[54] and made his debut on 27 December 1975 in a 2–0 defeat to Witham Town.[55]

His return to football was successful enough that he signed for Chelmsford City in the Southern League for the 1976–77 season. He played for only a few months with Chelmsford. He was still struggling with alcoholism and the DTs and sought out help from Alcoholics Anonymous.[56] He was also hospitalized in the alcoholics' ward of Warley Psychriatric Hospital.[57]

In August 1977 and still coping with alcoholism, he made his debut for Barnet in a 3–2 win against Atherstone Town.[58] Playing from midfield in 1977–78, Greaves netted 25 goals (13 in the Southern League) and was their player of the season.[59] He chose to leave the "Bees" early in the 1978–79 season in order to focus on his business interests and beating his alcoholism, despite manager Barry Fry's attempts to get him to stay at Underhill.[60] He went on to make several appearances for semi-professional side Woodford Town before retiring.[59]

International career[edit]

Greaves made his debut for the England under-23 team in a 6–2 win over Bulgaria at Stamford Bridge on 25 September 1957; he scored two goals, and missed out on a hat-trick after failing to convert a penalty.[61] In total he scored 13 goals in 12 games.

Greaves won his first England cap on 17 May 1959 against Peru at the Estadio Nacional, scoring England's only goal in a 4–1 defeat.[62] The tour of the American continents was not considered a success, as England also lost to Brazil and Mexico, but Greaves mostly escaped criticism in the press as he was still a teenager and showed promise with his performances.[63] He scored consecutive hat-tricks on 8 October 1960 and 19 October, in victories at Northern Ireland and Luxembourg.[64][65] On 15 April 1961, Greaves scored another hat-trick in a 9–3 victory over Scotland at Wembley, and also had a fourth goal disallowed for offside.[66]

He played in all four of England's games at the 1962 FIFA World Cup in Chile, scoring one goal in the 3–1 victory over Argentina before playing in the quarter-final defeat to Brazil.[67] During the defeat to Brazil a stray dog ran onto the pitch and evaded all of the players' efforts to catch it until Greaves got down on all fours to beckon the animal. He was successful in catching the dog, but it proceeded to urinate all over Greaves' England shirt. The Brazilian player Garrincha thought the incident was so amusing that he took the dog home as a pet.[68]

On 20 November 1963, he scored four goals in an 8–3 win over Northern Ireland.[69] The following year, on 3 October, he scored another hat-trick against Northern Ireland[70] to take his goal tally ahead of Bobby Charlton to 35, which meant that he held the overall England goalscoring record until 1968 when the record was retaken by Charlton. He scored four goals again on 29 June 1966, in a 6–1 win over Norway, and in doing so ensured himself a starting place in the 1966 FIFA World Cup.[71]

"I danced around the pitch with everyone else but even in this moment of triumph and great happiness, deep down I felt my sadness. Throughout my years as a professional footballer I had dreamed of playing in a World Cup Final. I had missed out on the match of a lifetime and it hurt."

— Greaves was bitterly disappointed to have missed the World Cup final, though it was only after his playing career ended that he descended into alcoholism.[72]

At the World Cup he played all three group games against Uruguay, Mexico and France, however in the win against France midfielder Joseph Bonnel racked his studs down Greaves' shin, causing a wound that required 14 stitches and left a permanent scar.[73] His replacement, Geoff Hurst, scored the winner in the quarter-final against Argentina and kept his place all the way to the final, where Hurst scored a hat-trick as England won the tournament.[62] Greaves was fit to play in the final, but manager Alf Ramsey opted against changing a winning team.[74] Only the 11 players on the pitch at the end of the 4–2 win over West Germany received medals. Following a Football Association led campaign to persuade FIFA to award medals to all the winners’ squad members, Greaves was presented with his medal by Gordon Brown at a ceremony at 10 Downing Street on 10 June 2009.[75]

Greaves played only three more times for England after the 1966 World Cup, scoring a single goal. His final cap came in a 1–0 win over Austria on 27 May 1967.[62] He retired from international football early the following year after telling Ramsey that he had no intention of becoming a bit-part player in the England squad.[76] In total he scored 44 goals in 57 appearances for England.[62] He remains third in the all-time list of England goalscorers, behind Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker.[77] Greaves holds the record for most hat-tricks for England — six in all.

Style of play[edit]

Greaves was a prolific goalscorer, and cited his relaxed attitude as the reason for his assured composure and confidence.[78] He also had great acceleration and pace,[79] as well as great positional skills.[80]

Broadcasting career[edit]

Greaves became a columnist at The Sun newspaper in the early 1980s.[81] His column was cancelled after a 30 year run, and he then worked as a columnist for The Sunday People.[82] He worked as a pundit on Star Soccer from 1980, and later worked on The Saturday Show before he was selected as a pundit for ITV's coverage of the 1982 FIFA World Cup.[83] From there he worked on World of Sport and On the Ball, where he struck up a partnership with Ian St. John.[84] Greg Dyke also hired Greaves to work as a television reviewer and presenter on TV-am in what Dyke admitted was a way of "dumbing down" the programme in order to attract more viewers.[85] From October 1985 to April 1992 he and St. John presented a popular Saturday lunchtime football show called Saint and Greavsie.[86] He went on to work as a team captain on Sporting Triangles, opposite Andy Gray and Emlyn Hughes.[87] His career in television came to an end as the Premier League was starting up, and he believed that his light-hearted approach to football was not considered serious enough for television bosses at the time.[88]

He went into semi-retirement after Saint and Greavsie was cancelled, making only occasional television appearances and after-dinner speeches.[89] He released his autobiography, Greavsie, in 2003. Greaves has also written numerous books in partnership with his lifelong friend, the journalist and author Norman Giller.

Personal life[edit]

He married Irene in 1958,[90] and though the pair went through a divorce process during the height of his alcoholism the divorce was never finalised and they reunited after three months apart.[91] They had four children, Lynn, Mitzi, Danny (who was a professional footballer with Southend United), and Andrew.[92][93] They also had another son, Jimmy Greaves Jr, who died before his first birthday.[94]

Whilst playing for Tottenham Hotspur he took out a £1,000 bank loan to start a packing business with his brother-in-law.[95] By the end of his playing career this company had an annual turnover of over £1 million.[95] He had a number of different business interests, including a travel agency.[96] Whilst out of the Spurs first team Greaves entered the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally. In his first ever rally, alongside co-driver, Tony Fall, Greaves drove a Ford Escort to a sixth place finish out of the 96 entrants.[90][97]

Greaves underwent surgery on an artery in his neck after suffering a mild stroke in February 2012.[98]


Season Club Division League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
1957–58 Chelsea First Division 35 22 2 0 0 0 0 0 37 22
1958–59 42 32 2 2 0 0 3 3 47 37
1959–60 40 29 2 1 0 0 0 0 42 30
1960–61 40 41 1 0 2 2 0 0 43 43
Total 157 124 7 3 2 2 3 3 169 132
1961–62 A.C. Milan Serie A 12 9 2 0 0 0 0 0 14 9
Total 12 9 2 0 0 0 0 0 14 9
1961–62 Tottenham Hotspur First Division 22 21 7 9 0 0 2 0 31 30
1962–63 41 37 1 0 0 0 6 5 491 441
1963–64 41 35 2 0 0 0 2 1 45 36
1964–65 41 29 4 6 0 0 0 0 45 35
1965–66 29 15 2 1 0 0 0 0 31 16
1966–67 38 25 8 6 1 0 0 0 47 31
1967–68 39 23 4 3 0 0 4 3 481 29
1968–69 42 27 4 4 6 5 0 0 52 36
1969–70 28 8 4 3 1 0 0 0 33 11
Total 321 220 36 32 8 5 14 9 381 268
1969–70 West Ham United First Division 6 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 4
1970–71 32 9 1 0 1 0 0 0 34 9
Total 38 13 1 0 1 0 0 0 40 13
Career total 528 366 46 35 11 7 17 12 602 422
  • 1Includes 1 Charity Shield appearance and 1 goal in 1962–63, and 1 Charity Shield appearance in 1967–68.
England national team[2]
Year Apps Goals
1959 5 2
1960 6 9
1961 4 5
1962 10 6
1963 9 8
1964 8 6
1965 5 2
1966 7 5
1967 3 1
Total 57 44


with Chelsea
with Tottenham Hotspur
with England


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External links[edit]