JIMMY Greaves has been hailed as “the greatest England forward ever” in a touching tribute by his former 1966 teammate Sir Geoff Hurst.
Tributes have poured in for the Spurs goalscoring hero, who had been battling dementia for a number of years and has died at the age of 81.
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.”
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.”
Greaves was one of the most prolific top flight goalscorers the English and world game has seen.
After retiring from the game he went on to have a second career on TV, presenting the hugely popular ‘Saint and Greavsie’ football show with Ian St John, who himself died earlier this year.
Soon after his death was announced, tributes began to be paid by past and present footballers.
Current Spurs and England striker Harry Kane paid tribute to “true legend and one of the great goalscorers”.
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.
England manager Gareth Southgate said there will be tribute to Greaves when the team play Hungary at Wembley next month.
“Jimmy Greaves was someone who was admired by all who love football, regardless of club allegiances,” he 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.
There have been some great players but forwards are judged on goals, and there’s nobody who could touch him
Sir Geoff Hurst
“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.”
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, which 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.
‘NOBODY COULD TOUCH HIM’
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.
He was also part of the first British team to win a European trophy when Spurs picked up the Cup Winner’s Cup in 1963.
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.
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.
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