Jimmy Greaves, Death of the White Knight / England / Tottenham / SOFOOT.com

We will forever keep the image of the great center forward in the immaculate jersey of Tottenham and the Three lions. Exceptional scorer with the still unmatched record of 356 goals in the Premier League, scored for the Spurs, but also Chelsea and West Ham, the great Jimmy Greaves died Sunday at 81 years old. A look back at Gentleman Jimmy’s shadow and light career …

Suddenly, John Lennon sees Jimmy Greaves in the audience of the London Palladium. John stops the Beatles concert on January 14, 1964, to applaud Jimmy, the star of Tottenham Hotspur! At 24, “Greavsie” is a prolific goalscorer, top scorer in the championship with Chelsea in 1959 (33 goals) and 1961 (43 goals), then with Tottenham in 1963 (37 goals). At the Spurs, he won the 1962 FA Cup and planted a brace in the 1963 Cup Winners’ Cup final against Atlético de Madrid (5-1). The first European trophy for English football. Jimmy gauze just as well at Three lions with already 30 goals in 34 selections!

Facing the huge Lev Yachin

The Missed Wembley 1966

The only snag to his brilliant career: his brief stint at Milan for half a season in 1961, sold against his will by the president of Chelsea to fill the coffers of Blues. Despite this prestigious transfer which had made Jimmy one of the pioneers among the great English players who left abroad, his failure also tells of his legendary loss. Repatriated in December 1961 to Tottenham for 99,999 pounds sterling, so as not to put pressure on him as the first English football player to reach 100,000 pounds transfer, he will not be part of this champion AC Milan team. of Italy 1962, then winner of the C1 the following year. With doubles and hat tricks in shambles, Jimmy still finished top scorer in Division One (ancestor of the Premier League) in 1964 (35 goals) and 1965 (29 goals).

By the time of the 1966 World Cup, at home, he rose to 47 goals in 51 caps! In the spring of 1966, the center-forward of the Lilywhites, who had been part of the Chilean Mundial in 1962 (quarter-final lost to Brazil), is in top form, motivated like never before. The coach Alf Ramsey therefore aligns him for the first three matches of the World Cup at the forefront of the attack where he shines alongside his friend Roger Hunt (Liverpool). But after the games against Uruguay and Mexico, Jimmy is badly injured against France by “The old damned Frenchy” Joseph Bonnel: 14 stitches and setting aside Three lions. the Hammer Geoff Hurst takes his place and scores against Argentina in the quarterfinals (1-0) …

After the English victory against Portugal in the semi-finals (2-1), Greavsie is operational for the final at Wembley against the FRG. But Ramsey prefers to field Hurst. Good pick ! Geoff plants a hat-trick and offers England the first and only Jules-Rimet (4-2, ap). Jimmy is elsewhere: “I danced around the pitch with the guys, but even in that moment of triumph, I felt the emptiness of my deep sadness. Throughout these years as a pro footballer, I had dreamed of playing in a World Cup final. I had missed the game of a lifetime and it hurt ” , he wrote later. And as only the eleven finalist players received a nice winner’s medal, Jimmy (as well as the other substitutes) left empty-handed, taking off on vacation to Mallorca to forget the terrible disappointment. Sort of Gerd Müller just as prolific, but unhappy, Jimmy Greaves will however continue to plant goals by wagons with Tottenham (winner again of the FA Cup 1967), until 1970, then with West Ham (1970-71) where he will find … Geoff Hurst!

“Finish scoring like Jimmy Greaves!” ”

Greaves ended his career by reaching an unmatched total of 356 goals in the English Premier League. With the Three lions, he finished at 44 goals (including six hat tricks) in 57 caps, remaining to this day the fourth highest scorer in the history of the selection. But if we have often spoken of his fabulous stats, it should have been pointed out more often that Jimmy Greaves was a magnificent striker, as technically fine as he was powerful at the finish for an average size (1.73m, like Der Bomber). His game mingled combative ardor british (in his devastating head game) and the artistic Latin touch illustrated by the virtuosity of perfect ambidextrous with the powerful and subtle left foot, devastating in the distant strikes and bewitching in his confusing dribbles. Jimmy Greaves will remain the master stallion of English excellence, synthesizing the best of Kevin Keegan, Ray Kennedy, Paul Gascoigne, David Platt, Gary Lineker (“Jimmy was the greatest center forward in the history of this country” , he tweeted), Harry Kane or David Beckham (Jimmy was a good free kicker too). Sunday is the enemy gunner Ian Wright who paid a nice tribute to his model of youth: “The first football name I heard from my trainer was: “No Ian! Finish the action scoring like Jimmy Greaves!” May he rest in peace. ”

The top scorer in the history of Tottenham (266 pawns) who celebrated his goals with his left arm stretched to the sky had defeated a post-career alcoholism that had him “Stole five years of his life” (sic) between 1972 and 1977: “When I see George Best or Paul Gascoigne, I think it’s the lack of pressure that has been fatal to us, according to his remarks reported by Vincent Duluc in The team. We missed football. It is not the pressure that makes us drink. It is the void. ” Fortunately, Jimmy will redo the icing by becoming a wise consultant and appreciated in the written press, at Sun, then on TV where he trained with the former Red from Liverpool, Ian Saint-John, the hyper popular duo of the Saturday noon show, Saint and Greavsie, famous football show on ITV.

Before seriously declining after a terrible stroke in 2015 which forced him to the wheelchair, Jimmy had received from the hands of Prime Minister Gordon Brown on June 10, 2009 “his” medal of world champion. Justice was done to him, as was the very gentlemanly tribute of Geoff Hurst: “Greaves was quite simply the best English striker. There are a lot of great players, but forwards are judged on goals scored, and on that no one has been able to match. When you hear the word genius, that’s the term that best defines Jimmy. ”

By Chérif Ghemmour

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