After the death of former England, Tottenham and Chelsea striker Jimmy Greaves, we reflect on the amazing goal performances for club and country.
Between his Chelsea debut in 1957 and his last game for West Ham in 1971, Greaves scored a staggering 422 goals in 602 club appearances. The numbers underscore his status as one of the greatest players England has ever produced.
The popular striker scored 266 goals during his glorious nine years at Tottenham, becoming the all-time top scorer, winning two FA Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup. His accomplishments were recognized for induction into the Tottenham Hall of Fame at a sold out ceremony on May 13, 2015 on White Hart Lane.
Greaves joined Spurs in December 1961 after a brief stint at AC Milan for a fee of £ 99,999. He didn’t need time to settle under legendary manager Bill Nicholson, scoring a hat trick on his debut against Blackpool and partnering with Bobby Smith – Spurs’ third-highest scorer with 208 in all competitions.
Greaves scored a goal in the 1962 FA Cup final win over Burnley and scored twice in the European Cup winners’ 5-1 win over Atletico Madrid the following year, but his time at Spurs tells only part of the story.
Greaves averaged 0.7 goals per game for Spurs, but he was even more productive at previous club Chelsea, where he scored 132 goals in 169 games at a phenomenal rate of 0.78 per game.
After making his first-team debut at the age of 17, Greaves scored 100 league goals before his 21st birthday. Fittingly, he scored the 100th goal in one of 13 hat-tricks he scored for the Blues, which reluctantly sold him to AC Milan for £ 80,000 in 1961.
Despite having only spent four seasons at Chelsea, Greaves ranks seventh on their all-time goalscoring lists, and the 41 goals he scored in the 1960/61 season remain a top record for the Blues.
During his tenure at Chelsea and Spurs, Greaves was the First Division top scorer for six different seasons, an achievement unprecedented. He was also his club’s top scorer in 12 of his 14 seasons in the First Division. The statistic is even more impressive when you consider that he retired at the age of just 31. His final season at West Ham, in which he scored nine goals in 34 games, was the only full season of his career in which he failed to double figures.
Greaves’ international career is best remembered for England’s 1966 World Cup triumph, but he missed the final after injuring himself in the group stage and losing his place to Geoff Hurst, who famously scored a hat trick at Wembley.
“I danced across the square with everyone else, but even in this moment of triumph and great joy I felt my sadness,” said Greaves Finale years later. I missed the game of my life and it hurt. “
Greaves scored 44 goals for England, placing himself behind Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker and Wayne Rooney on top scorers’ lists, but his natural finishing ability is underscored by a far superior goal rate over his rivals. Greaves’ goals came in just 57 games. In contrast, it took Rooney 100 games to hit that number. Greaves also scored six international hat tricks – more than any other player in English history.
England have yet to produce another goalscorer as successful as Greaves and statistics suggest there could be a long, long wait.