Jimmy Greaves

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Jimmy Greaves
Jimmy Greaves 2007.jpg
Greaves in 2007
Personal information
Full nameJames Peter Greaves
Date of birth(1940-02-20) 20 February 1940 (age 73)
Place of birthManor Park East Ham, England
Playing positionStriker (retired)
Senior career*
1961–1970Tottenham Hotspur321(220)
1970–1971West Ham United38(13)
1976–1977Chelmsford City
1979–1980Woodford Town
National team
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
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Jimmy Greaves
Jimmy Greaves 2007.jpg
Greaves in 2007
Personal information
Full nameJames Peter Greaves
Date of birth(1940-02-20) 20 February 1940 (age 73)
Place of birthManor Park East Ham, England
Playing positionStriker (retired)
Senior career*
1961–1970Tottenham Hotspur321(220)
1970–1971West Ham United38(13)
1976–1977Chelmsford City
1979–1980Woodford Town
National team
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

James Peter "Jimmy" Greaves (born 20 February 1940 in Manor Park, East Ham, England) is an English former football player, and more recently a television pundit - famous for his trademark catchphrase it's a funny old game. Greaves is England's third highest international goalscorer, the last player to score 40 goals in one English top-flight season (in 1960-61, while playing for Chelsea), the highest goalscorer in the history of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and the highest goalscorer in the history of English top flight football.[2] He notably scored on his debut for every team he represented until his retirement in 1980.[3]

Playing career[edit]

Chelsea, Milan, and Spurs[edit]

Signed as a junior in 1956, Greaves scored a record 114 goals the following season in Chelsea's youth team.[4] Aged 17, he scored on his debut on 24 August 1957 for Chelsea against Tottenham Hotspur in a 1–1 draw.[4][5] He finished as top League goalscorer twice whilst at Chelsea, in 1959 and 1961, and his 41 league goals in the 1960-61 season remains a club record. He scored thirteen hat-tricks, five goals and four goals on three occasions for Chelsea. His hat-trick against Manchester City in November 1960 was scored when he was 20 years and 290 days old and marked his 100th league goal making him the youngest player to pass the 100 goal mark, a record he still holds.[4] Chelsea did not win any major trophies while Greaves was playing for them and in 1961, against Greaves' wishes, they decided to sell him.[4] His last game was the final game of the 1960–61 season on 29 April 1961. Greaves was made captain for the day and scored all four goals in a 4–3 win against Nottingham Forest.[4][6]

He briefly joined the Italian side A.C. Milan in 1961, after reportedly turning down a huge offer from Newcastle United.[7] Scoring on his debut against Botafogo, Greaves scored nine goals in twelve games, but he failed to settle and left after only a few months.[7] Bill Nicholson then signed him for Tottenham Hotspur for £99,999. The unusual fee was intended to relieve Greaves of the pressure of being the first £100,000 player. Greaves however has rejected this, claiming Nicholson did not want to be the first manager to sign a player for £100,000.[8]

Greaves played at Spurs from 1961 to 1970, scoring a club record of 266 goals in 379 matches, including 220 goals in the First Division. Greaves finished as top League goalscorer in 1963, 1964, 1965 and 1969. His record of finishing top goalscorer for six seasons has never been matched.

With Spurs, Greaves won the FA Cup in 1962 and 1967, scoring after only three minutes in the 1962 Final against Burnley.[9] He also won the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1963 - scoring twice in the 5-1 defeat of Atlético Madrid,[10] ensuring that Spurs became the first British club to win a European trophy. Today he is considered one of the best players in the history of Tottenham Hotspur.

West Ham and Barnet[edit]

In 1970, Greaves (valued at £54,000) joined West Ham United in part exchange in the deal that took Martin Peters to White Hart Lane. He scored on his debut on 21 March 1970, two goals in a 5–1 away win against Manchester City.[11] 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 resulting in him being dropped by the club.[12] Struggling with his fitness, Greaves scored 13 goals in 40 games in all competitions for West Ham.[13] His final game came on 1 May 1971 in a 1–0 home defeat to Huddersfield Town.[13] He retired in 1971 having played 516 Football League games and scored 357 goals, an all-time record for the top flight.

Greaves made a comeback with Brentwood in December 1975, aged 35. This was successful enough that he signed for Chelmsford City in the Southern League for the 1976-77 season. Although his club was relegated from the Premier Division at the end of that season, Greaves had done enough to earn a move to ambitious Barnet. On 26 November 1977, he made his first appearance in the FA Cup since January 1971 in Barnet's first round home defeat to Peterborough United. Playing from midfield in 1977-78, Greaves netted 25 goals (13 in the Southern League) and was their player of the season.[14] After a 1978-79 season that yielded 3 league goals, Greaves was released by manager Barry Fry.[15] He went on to make several appearances for semi-professional side Woodford Town before retiring.[14]

International career[edit]

Greaves won his first England cap on 17 May 1959 against Peru, scoring England's only goal in a 4-1 defeat.[16] He went on to play 57 times and score 44 goals,[16] five fewer than Bobby Charlton but at a much higher rate. He remains third in the all-time list of England goalscorers, behind Charlton and Gary Lineker.[17] From 1964, when he scored a hat-trick against Northern Ireland[18] to take his goal tally to 35, until 1968 when he was overhauled by Charlton, he held the overall England goalscoring record. Greaves also holds the record for most hat-tricks for England - six in all. At the 1961 British Home Championship, Greaves scored seven goals in three games as England won the title. In that 1960-61 season, he scored 13 goals in internationals, a record for an England player in any season which included England's 1,000th goal in official senior matches, against Wales at Wembley on 23 November 1960.[19]

In the 1962 World Cup finals match against Brazil in Chile, 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.[20]

Greaves was the first-choice striker for the England team during the 1966 World Cup but suffered a shin injury during a game against France and had to be replaced.[16] His replacement, Geoff Hurst, scored the winner in the quarter final against Argentina and kept his place all the way to the final, scoring a hat-trick as England won the tournament.[16]

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.[21]

One of football's most famous photographs shows the elation on the England bench as the final whistle was blown, except for Greaves, in his suit and tie, looking astonished at what had happened. Greaves maintained that he felt nothing but delight at England's win and celebrated as much as the other non-playing members of the squad. He also said that he never felt he had a divine right to be in the side once he regained his fitness.[22] However, his reaction at the time of England's success became well-documented; he was to go on holiday with his wife while the rest of the squad attended an official banquet.[23]

Greaves played only three more times for England after the 1966 World Cup, scoring a single goal. His final cap came against Austria in May 1967.[16]

1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally[edit]

In 1970 Greaves entered the 1970 World Cup Rally from London to Mexico City.[24] In his first ever rally, alongside co-driver, Tony Fall, Greaves drove a Ford Escort finishing in sixth place.[24][25][26]

Post playing career[edit]

From 1972 Greaves battled a well-documented alcohol problem, finally quitting drinking on 28 February 1978. He became a popular television presenter and football pundit, striking up a partnership with Ian St. John. Together they hosted a popular Saturday lunchtime football show called Saint and Greavsie from 1985 until the programme was axed in 1992.

Greaves also worked frequently for TV-am as a TV critic and was a resident team captain on ITV sports quiz Sporting Triangles as well as co-hosting the Saturday morning children's television show, The Saturday Show. He briefly had his own talk show and has been a columnist for The Sun newspaper for many years. He also answered readers' letters in Shoot magazine in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2002 Greaves was made an Inaugural Inductee to the English Football Hall of Fame. He released his autobiography, Greavsie, in 2003 and works as an after-dinner speaker. Greaves has written 18 books in partnership with his lifelong friend, the journalist and author Norman Giller.

Married to Irene since March 1958, when he had just turned 18,[26] he has 12 grandchildren and one great grandchild. Jimmy and Irene have four children, Lynn, Mitzi, Danny (who was a professional footballer with Southend United), and Andrew.[27][28]

Greaves underwent surgery on an artery in his neck after suffering a mild stroke in February 2012.[29]


Tottenham Hotspur




All-time club performance
ClubSeasonDomestic LeagueFA CupLeague CupEuropeOtherTotal
Tottenham Hotspur1961–622221790020003130
West Ham United1969–70640000000064
Career Totals5283664635117171222602422

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list England's goal tally first.
1959-05-19Estadio Nacional, Lima Peru1-4Friendly match1
1959-10-17Ninian Park, Cardiff Wales1-1British Home Championship1
1960-05-11Empire Stadium, Wembley Yugoslavia3-3Friendly match1
1960-10-08Windsor Park, Belfast Northern Ireland5-2British Home Championship2
1960-10-15Stade Josy Barthel, Luxembourg-Ville Luxembourg9-01962 FIFA World Cup qualification3
1960-10-26Empire Stadium, Wembley Spain4-2Friendly match1
1960-11-23Empire Stadium, Wembley Wales5-1British Home Championship2
1961-04-15Empire Stadium, Wembley Scotland9-3British Home Championship3
1961-05-24Stadio Olimpico, Rome Italy3-2Friendly match1
1961-05-27Prater Stadium, Vienna Austria1-3Friendly match1
1962-05-20Estadio Nacional, Lima Peru4-0Friendly match3
1962-06-02Estadio El Teniente, Rancagua Argentina3-11962 FIFA World Cup1
1962-10-20Windsor Park, Belfast Northern Ireland3-1British Home Championship1
1962-11-21Empire Stadium, Wembley Wales4-0British Home Championship1
1963-05-29Tehelné Pole, Bratislava Czechoslovakia4-2Friendly match2
1963-10-12Ninian Park, Cardiff Wales4-0British Home Championship2
1963-10-23Empire Stadium, WembleyRest of the World XI2-1Friendly match1
1963-11-20Empire Stadium, Wembley Wales8-3British Home Championship4
1964-05-24Dalymount Park, Dublin Republic of Ireland3-1Friendly match1
1964-05-30Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro Brazil1-5Taça das Nações1
1964-10-03Windsor Park, Belfast Northern Ireland4-3British Home Championship3
1964-12-09Olympisch Stadion, Amsterdam Netherlands1-1Friendly match1
1965-04-10Empire Stadium, Wembley Scotland2-2British Home Championship1
1965-05-05Empire Stadium, Wembley Hungary1-0Friendly match1
1966-05-04Empire Stadium, Wembley Yugoslavia2-0Friendly match1
1966-05-04Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo Norway6-1Friendly match4
1967-05-24Empire Stadium, Wembley Spain2-0Friendly match1

Books in collaboration with Norman Giller[edit]

  • My World of Soccer 1966
  • This One’s On Me
  • The Final (novel)
  • The Ball Game (novel)
  • The Boss (novel)
  • The Second Half (novel)
  • Let's Be Honest (with Reg Gutteridge)
  • Greavsie’s Heroes and Entertainers
  • World Cup History
  • GOALS! The greatest ever scored
  • Stop the Game, I Want to Get On
  • The Book of Football Lists
  • Taking Sides
  • Funny Old Games, with Ian St John
  • Sports Quiz Challenge
  • Sports Quiz Challenge 2
  • It’s A Funny Old Life
  • Saint & Greavsie’s World Cup Special
  • The Sixties Revisited
  • Don’t Shoot the Manager


  1. ^ "James Peter "Jimmy" Greaves - Goals in International Matches". The Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. 
  2. ^ Irwin, Mark (23 February 2008). "When Greavsie met Chopper". www.thesun.co.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Greatest goalscoring debuts, BBC News, 15 August 2013
  4. ^ a b c d e "Jimmy Greaves". www.chelseafc.com. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "August 24 - Greavsie scores on Chelsea debut". www.onthisfootballday.com. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Chelsea v Nottingham Forest, 29 April 1961". www.11v11.com. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "The Alternative List: Boffins pick their 30-21 of the best British footballers to play abroad". www.dailymail.co.uk. 11 March 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  8. ^ Greaves, Jimmy (6 February 2011). "The penny drops on today's mega deals". www.people.co.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  9. ^ "Tottenham 3-1 Burnley". www.mirrorfootball.co.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  10. ^ "Jimmy Greaves 1961-1970". www.sporting-heroes.net. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  11. ^ "Game played on 21 Mar 1970". www.westhamstats.info. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  12. ^ Giller, Martin (13 November 2010). "MOORE AND GREAVES GET HAMMERED IN BLACKPOOL". www.express.co.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "Welcome to the Wonderful World of West Ham United Statistics - Jimmy Greaves". www.westhamstats.info. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "Sol Campbell and the top 10 stars who lit up the lower leagues". www.mirrorfootball.co.uk. 25 August 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "HISTORY OF BARNET FC". www.bfcsa.co.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  16. ^ a b c d e "Jimmy Greaves". www.thefa.com. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  17. ^ "England's Top Goalscorers". www.englandonline.co.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  18. ^ "England's Hat-tricks". www.englandonline.co.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  19. ^ "After 138 years of landmark England goals, the race is on to score No 2,000". www.dailymail.co.uk. 15 November 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  20. ^ "Jimmy Greaves". www.mirrorfootball.co.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  21. ^ "World Cup 1966 winners honoured". BBC Sport. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  22. ^ "Malcolm Brodie: Jimmy the Gent is a London legend both Blue and White". www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk. 19 April 2008. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  23. ^ "Jimmy Greaves". www.talkfootball.co.uk. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  24. ^ a b "London to Mexico World Cup Rally". www.wcr40.org.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  25. ^ "People". Sport illustrated. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  26. ^ a b Shaw, Phil (7 February 2010). "Jimmy Greaves: 'John Terry sleeps with some bird and everyone's up in arms'". The Independent. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  27. ^ Stephen Moss (2003-08-25). "The Monday Interview: Jimmy Greaves | Football". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  28. ^ "Messi-anic fervour of striker to match Greavsie « Sports Journalists' Association". Sportsjournalists.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  29. ^ Press Association (2012-02-26). "England great Jimmy Greaves making full recovery after stroke | Football". Guardian. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 

External links[edit]