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Legendary English striker Jimmy Greaves dies at 81

Jimmy Greaves

English footballer Jimmy Greaves of Tottenham Hotspur FC, UK, April 1967. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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Jimmy Greaves, the legendary Tottenham and England striker, has died at the age of 81.

Greaves is Tottenham’s all-time leading goalscorer with 266 goals and also scored 44 goals in 57 games for England, as he played for Chelsea, AC Milan and West Ham in his storied career.

Tottenham host Chelsea on Sunday, as two of Greaves’ former clubs will unite to honor a true legend as there will be a minute’s silence before the game and both players will wear black armbands.

The London native is the highest-scoring player in the top flight of English football, with 357 goals to his name. He won the Serie A with AC Milan, plus two FA Cups and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup with Tottenham. He was also part of the England squad which won the World Cup in 1966.

He was adored for his clinical finishing during his playing career and his broadcasting skills in his post-playing career, as he was also a star in the much-loved soccer show Saint and Greavsie.

Greaves had struggled with his health in recent years and it was announced he passed away in his home in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Tottenham released the following statement as they paid tribute to Jimmy Greaves.

Spurs, Chelsea pay tribute to legendary striker

Tottenham led the tributes to Greaves, as their top goalscorer in history will always be a legend at White Hart Lane.

“We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of the great Jimmy Greaves, not just Tottenham Hotspur’s record goalscorer but the finest marksman this country has ever seen. Jimmy passed away at home in the early hours of this morning (Sunday 19 September), aged 81.

“Throughout his wonderful playing career, Jimmy’s strike rate was phenomenal. His Spurs return was 266 goals in 379 appearances between 1961 and 1970 – 220 goals in 321 league games, 32 goals in 36 FA Cup ties, five in just eight League Cup ties and nine in 14 European matches. The 37 league goals that he netted in the 1962/63 season remains to this day our record by any player in a single season.

“He was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list at the end of 2020. Football will not see his like again. We extend our sincere condolences to his wife Irene, their four children, 10 grandchildren and great grandchildren.”

Chelsea, where Greaves made his name and was a product of their youth team, also saluted his greatness.

“Chelsea Football Club mourns the loss of a truly remarkable player and one of our own. Our thoughts and sympathies are with Jimmy Greaves’s family and friends at this time of their sad loss. Those who witnessed Greaves effortlessly breeze through a defence with the ball at his feet, before passing it beyond the goalkeeper and into the back of the net, universally acclaim him as the finest goalscorer to play for Chelsea FC.

“They normally go further too, and describe the east Londoner as the best finisher English football has ever seen. The statistics reinforce the opinions, conferring true legend status on an England international who made his name at Stamford Bridge.”

England pays tribute to Jimmy Greaves

He is the fourth-highest goalscorer in England’s history and played in the 1966 World Cup winning team in the early games of the tournament, but he did not play in the final due to injury.

Greaves is regarded as one of the best finishers in England’s history.

“Jimmy Greaves was someone who was admired by all who love football, regardless of club allegiances,” Gareth Southgate said. “I was privileged to be able to meet Jimmy’s family last year at Tottenham Hotspur as the club marked his 80th birthday. My thoughts are with them and I know the entire game will mourn his passing.

“Jimmy certainly deserves inclusion in any list of England’s best players, given his status as one of our greatest goalscorers and his part in our 1966 World Cup success. We will pay tribute to his memory at our home match with Hungary at Wembley Stadium next month. His place in our history will never be forgotten.”

Harry Kane, who is set to overtake Greaves in the scoring charts for England, and possibly Tottenham, led the tirbutes to Greaves.

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