One of the most naturally gifted and prolific strikers of any era, Jimmy Greaves was born to score goals and in an iconic career that spanned three glorious decades, that is exactly what he did with an unerring regularity for club and country.
Greaves was simply sensational in front of goal and from the moment he marked his debut for Chelsea as a 17-year-old in 1957 with a goal, it was obvious he was destined for great things. He spent four seasons at Stamford Bridge and scored an incredible 124 times in just 157 appearances.
It was, however, in the famous white of Tottenham Hotspur that he was to truly establish himself as one of the game’s greats. Signed by Bill Nicholson in 1961 after a brief and unhappy sojourn in Italy with AC Milan, Greaves found his spiritual home at White Hart Lane and his arrival in north London was the beginning of a nine-year love affair between the player and the club.
The striker lit up the old First Division with Spurs, finishing the league’s top scorer in four separate seasons and his goals helped the club to lift the FA Cup in 1962 and 1967. In 1963, he was part of the Tottenham team who became the first British side to lift a European trophy after they famously beat Atletico Madrid 5-1 in the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup.
He left Spurs aged 30 in 1970 having rewritten the club’s record books. In total, he scored a breathtaking 266 goals in 379 games for the Lilywhites and is still widely regarded as the greatest striker in Tottenham’s illustrious history.
Greaves was even more prolific in the white of England. He marked his international debut against Peru in 1959 with a goal and over the next eight years he played 57 times for his country and scored 44 times. He is third on the all-time England goalscorers list behind Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker but his goals per game ratio remains superior to both.
Injury robbed him of the chance to play in the 1966 World Cup final but his impact on the international stage was undimmed by the cruel twist of fate and he will forever be remembered as one of England’s greatest ever strikers.