Gareth Southgate led the tributes to Jimmy Greaves on Sunday following the death at the age of 81 of the man widely regarded as being English football’s finest marksmen, APA reports citing the Guardian.
The England manager said Greaves’s place in the game’s history would “never be forgotten” and emphasised the way in which admiration of the former Chelsea, Milan, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham forward’s rare talent has and does unite football fans.
“Jimmy certainly deserves inclusion in any list of England’s best players, given his status as one of our greatest goal-scorers and his part in our 1966 World Cup success,” said Southgate. “I know the entire game will mourn his passing. His place in our history will never be forgotten. Jimmy was admired by all who love football, regardless of club allegiances.”
Greaves will forever be synonymous with goals. He registered 44 in 57 appearances for England, including six hat-tricks, and became Tottenham’s all time top scorer with 266 in 379 games. Earlier, he claimed 132 goals in 169 matches for Chelsea after kicking off his career in 1957. “We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of the great Jimmy Greaves, the finest marksman this country has ever seen,” read a Tottenham statement.
After arriving at White Hart Lane from Milan as a slight 21-year-old, the 5ft 8in forward starred in Bill Nicholson’s famous 1963 Cup-Winners Cup winning team as Spurs became the first British club to lift a major European trophy. Operating in an era when defenders were permitted to kick lumps out of forwards, his game married incision and guile with considerable courage.
Greaves would prove a key component of the Sir Alf Ramsey’s 1966 World Cup plans and featured in his country’s first three games at the tournament before succumbing to injury. He was then forced to watch his replacement, Geoff Hurst, score a hat-trick against West Germany in the final.
Hurst also paid tribute to his former England and West Ham team-mate. “One of the truly great goal-scorers,” he tweeted. “Terrific guy with an absolutely brilliant sense of humour, the best. It has been a difficult time for him, he can now rest in peace.”