Jimmy Greaves dead at 81: Tributes paid to Tottenham and England legend after dementia battle

TOTTENHAM and England legend Jimmy Greaves has died aged 81.

Tributes have poured in for the Spurs goalscoring hero, who had been battling dementia for a number of years.

Spurs said in a statement said: "We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of the great Jimmy Greaves.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to Jimmy's family and friends at this sad time.

"Rest in peace, Jimmy."

Soon after his death was announced, tributes began to be paid by past and present footballers.

Sir Geoff Hurst, who replaced Greaves in the 1966 team and scored a hat-trick in the final triumph over West Germany, says Greaves was simply the greatest English forward there has ever been.

"There have been some great players but forwards are judged on goals, and there's nobody who could touch him," he said.

"I am asked is there any animosity between Jimmy and I, because I took his place? But not for one second.

"You hear the term genius, and it is the one word which applies to Jimmy."

Arsenal legend Ian Wright described how he was urged to copy Greaves as a youngster.

"The first footballers name I ever heard from my teacher. 'No Ian! Finish like Jimmy Greaves' May he rest in peace," he tweeted.

Greaves suffered a stroke in May 2015 which left him wheelchair-bound and with severely impaired speech.

Tottenham said he had died at home on Sunday morning.

The club paid tribute to Greaves' "phenomenal strike rate".

He was England’s greatest top-flight goalscorer by a country mile, despite retiring from the professional game at 31, made him more remarkable still.

Greaves was leading scorer in the English top flight in six different seasons.

He also held the all-time record of 366 goals in Europe's top five leagues, which stood for no less than 46 years.

It was only eclipsed by Cristiano Ronaldo during Real Madrid's superb 2016-17 campaign.

Yet he was no mere goal machine, remarkable only for an avalanche of statistics.

He was also a much-loved TV presenter, a professional TV critic, a stand-up comedian, a supremely gifted anecdotist and raconteur as well an inspirational fighter against alcoholism.

You hear the term genius, and it is the one word which applies to Jimmy.

James Peter Greaves, born the son of a Tube driver in Manor Park, East London, on February 20th 1940.

He was a teenage sensation at Chelsea and an early pioneer overseas in a brief spell at AC Milan.

But he is probably best known as an insatiable goal-scorer during nine years at Tottenham, where he would win two FA Cups and become part of first British team to win a European trophy.

Greaves was an outstanding dribbler capable of Messi-esque individual efforts, yet he elevated the goal poaching into an art form.

While his England scoring record was outstanding, Greaves would be a spectator for the greatest game in his nation’s history, the 1966 World Cup Final, after suffering a gashed shin in the final group match against France.

For the quarter-final, he was replaced by Geoff Hurst, who scored the winner against Argentina.

Jimmy Greaves’ career in numbers

114 – goals scored for the youth team after signing for Chelsea in 1956.

17 – Greaves' age when he made his first-team debut for Chelsea, scoring in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham.

100 – number of league goals Greaves had scored by the age of 20. He remains the youngest player to reach the landmark.

99, 999 – the fee in pounds paid by Tottenham to sign Greaves from AC Milan in 1961.

132 – goals for Chelsea in 169 games.

44 – goals scored for England in 57 matches. He is still fourth on the all-time list behind Wayne Rooney (53), Bobby Charlton (49) and Gary Lineker (48).

6 – hat-tricks scored for England still stands as a record today.

41 – number of goals for Chelsea in 40 league games during the 1960/61 season is still a club record at Stamford Bridge.

266 – goals for Tottenham in 379 appearances means Greaves remains Spurs' record goalscorer.

When Greaves was only approaching full fitness by the time of the final against West Germany, Alf Ramsey stuck with Hurst and the rest was history.

Contrary to popular belief, Greaves wasn’t bitter about missing out on that famous 4-2 victory and hat-trick hero Hurst was a life-long friend.

The footballing moment which caused him such devastation came in 1970 when Spurs boss Bill Nicholson off-loaded him to West Ham in a swap deal involving Martin Peters.

His time at Upton Park was brief and unrewarding. Greaves retired the following year – returning only as a non-league midfielder some years later.

When alcoholism took its grip, he admitted that the years from 1974 to 1978 were "lost" to him.

During that time, Greaves divorced Irene – his teenage sweetheart and the mother of his five children.

But the couple were soulmates who never really parted, officially remarrying in 2017, but only because they "never got round to it" 30 or 40 years earlier.

As a footballer and later a TV personality, though, Greaves seemed to have an extended family of millions.

He was one half of Saint and Greavsie, the hugely popular ITV football show he co-hosted with Ian St John from 1985 to 1992 – where his eternal catchphrase ‘It’s a funny old game’ was coined.

Back when football did not always take itself so seriously, the duo once successfully persuaded Donald Trump to conduct the draw for the League Cup quarter-finals.

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