jimmy greaves - fact file

1961 - 1970            forward


Born on 20th February 1940 in Dagenham, Essex, England.

Height : - .m  (5' 8")

Weight : -  - kgs  (10st 8lbs)

One of the foremost goal-scorers of his generation, Jimmy Greaves' name became synonymous with hitting the back of the net on a very regular basis.

Noted for scoring on every debut he made for each club, Jimmy Greaves was the premier striker of his day and scored goals from every conceivable angle and with every part of his body.  It didn't matter to Greavsie, as long as the ball crossed the white line between the posts and under the crossbar. 

And his time in football could have been so different, as he was originally due to sign for Tottenham in 1955, but when manager Arthur Rowe was ill as Greaves left school, Chelsea's representatives stole the young prodigy away and made him a Chelsea player.

Raised in the football breeding ground of Dagenham, he attended Southwood Lane Primary School and came from the same area as Terry Venables and Alf Ramsey.

Started his career in 1957 at Stamford Bridge and his first game was against Spurs at White Hart Lane in a 1-1 draw and inevitably, it was Greaves' name against the Chelsea goal on the score-sheet.  He scored regularly in the Blues side and his prolific goal-scoring (including a record six hat-tricks in the top flight during season 1960-61 which got him 41 goals - a club record for goals in a single league season to this day) came to the attention of the Italians, who wanted someone to unlock the rigid defensive systems in their own league.  Suffering under the maximum wage, the money offered to him by AC Milan was hugely tempting and with his four month old son Jimmy Junior having died with pneumonia, Greaves saw this as an escape from the pain of his son's death too.  Already signed by the Italian club, there was a ban on importing foreign players, but when this was lifted in 1961, Greaves moved to Milan.  However, while he was waiting for the ban to be lifted, the maximum wage was abolished in England and he was suddenly playing for more money in a country he didn't particularly want to be in.  He had tried desperately to get out of the move to Italy, but couldn't and Milan had thrown even more money at him to make him join them.

In truth, it was the worst move he could have made, with him being punished for breaking club rules and lacking the freedom he had been used to in England.  He was told what to eat by the manager and was watched while he ate it.  He was not allowed more than two cigarettes a day and he was fined for going outside the city limits.  While there, he enjoyed his time on the pitch, despite hating the defensive Italian style, but his nine goals contributed to AC Milan winning the Serie A title, although Jimmy did not play enough games to merit a medal.  Jimmy was not happy and desperately wanted to return to England, so began a campaign of disobedience, which lead to him paying more than his salary in fines !!   Having been invited back to London to attend a function at the Cafe Royal, Bill Nicholson bumped into him in the gents toilets and asked how he was. 

Chelsea had been interested in taking him back, but his six month spell was ended when Bill Nicholson brought Jimmy back to London for a fee of £99,999, as he didn't want him to be burdened with the tag of being the first £100,000 footballer.  His first appearance in a Spurs shirt was not in the first team, but in a reserve match at Home Park, when 13,500 turned out to see him play against Plymouth Argyle reserves.  His first team debut saw the relief in returning to football that he knew and his hat-trick against Blackpool started repaying the fee and the belief Bill Nick had in him.

At the end of the first season with the club, he had hit 21 league goals, scored the first goal in the FA Cup Final win over Burnley, winning his first medal and the following year a double in the Final of the European Cup Winners Cup set the team on to a 5-1 win over Atletico Madrid.

With a poise when bearing down on goal rarely seen in football, whether he had one player to beat or several, his balance and striking power was complemented with a calmness that allowed him sometimes to pass the ball into the net, making the whole business look easy.  Ever alert to tap-ins after a keeper had made a save, his most memorable goals are those from long mazy runs, like the ones at White Hart Lane against Leicester City (October 1968), Manchester United (October 1965) and Newcastle United (December 1966).  But other goals came from his head and whichever foot was to hand.  He topped the Spurs goal-scoring charts for eight consecutive seasons from 1961-62 to 1968-69, with six of them also topping the First Division scorers chart (being the first player to top the scorers in the top division for three consecutive seasons from 1962-63 to 1964-65).  His 37 goals in the 1962-63 season is still a league record for Spurs.

The most gifted goal-scorer of his generation, Jimmy was never one for partaking of the sordid side of the game ... chasing back after defenders or helping out in defence.  His job was to stick the ball in the back of the net and he did that with frightening regularity.  Never one to thunder a shot home when he could side-foot it with great precision past the goalkeeper, Greaves scored goals from everywhere in almost every conceivable way and in his Spurs career ended up with 220 league goals and 266 goals in all competitive games - surely, totals which will never be exceeded.

There was a regular place in the England side, many of the games he played were alongside Spurs team-mate and striking partner Bobby Smith and Jimmy hit 44 goals in 57 matches.  He played in the first game of the 1966 World Cup against France, but an injury and the fact that he had been recovering from a bout of Hepatitis ruled him out for the rest of the competition, with Geoff Hurst successfully replacing him.

With a career record of 366 league goals in 527 games and 44 goals in 57 international matches, Greavsie's total of 410 in 584 matches stands comparison with any goal-scorer of the 20th century, considering the standard of much of the opposition he faced.                 


NICKNAME :  Greavsie


Career Record
Club Signed Fee Debut Apps Goals
Chelsea 1955 - - - -
Chelsea (professional) May 1957 - 24th August 1957 v Tottenham Hotspur (League) (away) drew 1-1 157 124
AC Milan (Italy) June 1961 £80,000 ??  10 9
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR December 1961 £99,999 16th December 1961 v Blackpool (Division 1) (home)  won 5-2 420 360
West Ham United 1970 ?? ??  ?? ??
Barnet ?? ?? ??  ?? ??

England international
57 full caps;  44 goals
?? Under-23 caps; ?? goals
European Cup Winners Cup winners medal 1962-1963 (THFC)
FA Cup Winners medal 1962, 1967 (both with THFC)
Top league goal-scorer in the First Division 1958-59, 1960-61 (Chelsea)
Top league goal-scorer scorer in the First Division 1962-63, 1963-64, 1964-65, 1968-69 (THFC)

Was once voted Pipeman of the Year.

In his career, Jimmy scored 35 goals in London derbies for Chelsea, Spurs and West Ham United.
07.12.1963 - Bolton Wanderers (away) (First Division) - scored 200th career goal

- appearance 


Most hat-tricks in a top flight season with 6 for Chelsea in season 1960-61
Youngest player to score 100 league goals at 20 years 290 days
41 goals in his last season (1960-61) at Chelsea is still a club record for goals scored in one season


What they said about Jimmy Greaves
Lakeside United ... in a letter to AC Milan on bringing back Greaves from his Italian nightmare ..1961 ()

"We, Lakeside United, are a Sunday amateur club and have been formed three years.  Despite being of great repute, we need a little more punch and think Mr. Greaves will fit the bill adequately."

Bill Nicholson ... on Greaves' first senior goal for Chelsea against Tottenhamat WHL, beating three players and stroking the ball home.  .. ()

"It had the hallmarks of his game – improvisation and genius."

BIll Nicholson ... on Greaves' time in Italy .. ()

"When Greaves became unsettled at Milan, I knew I had a good chance of signing him because of a meeting I had with him at the Café Royal some months before. We were attending a football dinner and happened to visit the men's toilets at the same time.
I asked him “Why didn't you join a better club than Milan ? You should have come to Spurs.”
I meant it as light-hearted banter to start a conversation, but he replied, "I think I will next time.""

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What Jimmy Greaves said about ...
... playing against Tommy Smith of Liverpool ...  ()

"As we went out on the pitch, he handed me a piece of paper.  It was the evening menu for the Liverpool Royal Infirmary."

... international matches ...  ..1962 ()

"I believe that international matched between representative teams is on the way out.  its days are numbered and it will disappear completely just as soon as a full programme of international football at club level."

... disciplinary action by refs in the 1960s ...  .. ()

"Back then, unless you took a machete out on the pitch, you wouldn't get booked."

... on 1980s Italian defender Marco Tardelli ...  .. ()

"He's put more scar tissue on people than the surgeons at Harefield Hospital."

... on the small crowds watching the World Cup in Chile 1962 ...  .. ()

"It was like asking Frank Sinatra to sing in front of three dozen people."

... going into the 1962 FA Cup final to Ron Henry .. (THFC programme)

"It's all right for you Ron, you've already got a medal from last year.  Tell you what, I'm going to score in the first minute."

He scored in the third minute.

on his partnership with Alan Gilzean ...  (Hotspur  January 2010)

"No one told Alan Gilzean and me what to do; we just did it.  Very quickly we knew exactly what the other was going to do.  You can't teach that it's an instinctive thing between the two of you that you're both reading from the same page."

on his favourite match ...  (Hotspur  January 2010)

"Without doubt, the European Cup Winners Cup Final (in 1963).  It stands head and shoulders above every other game.  I look back and see the preparation and what went on before the game.  Atletico Madrid were the holders and strong favourites to win.  Bill had actually dropped Danny (Blanchflower) for the game to bring in Tony Marchi to play alongside Dave (Mackay) and big Maurice Norman.  But when we got to Rotterdam and Dave failed a fitness test it was a blow.  After Bill's team talk, Danny got up and he said 'Look lads, we should imagine what their manager is saying to them, ' He can play a bit, and he scores goals, and Smithy who plays up front is big – he'll do this, he'll do that …”  And we thought Danny's right.  We went out and, as everybody knows because it's history now, we played them off the park.

It was one of those games, where you can see the influence of one man, and that was Danny; his influence was in the dressing room – and not talking tactics, nothing to do with 'you mark him' and 'you do that', it was 'lads, we are better players than them.'"

on leaving Spurs ...  (Hotspur  January 2010)

"I never wanted to leave the club.  I never breather any dissatisfaction with the club.  I Loved it here.  All I ever wanted to do was get that season (1969-70) out of the way; we were having a rotten year and there were only a few games to go."

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in 2003 in the Times
greatest fear ... ill health.  So that - and a third term for Tony Blair.  I have always been right of centre.  I think most footballers are ; when you are told to go out there and tear your opponents apart, it tends to make you right wing.
no longer worry about ... my looks or having a bald head, although I can't understand men with full heads of hair, who shave it all off.
when I'm annoyed ... I swear.  It's bad to bottle things up, so I have a good eff and blind and that's it.  I also swear when I'm not annoyed.  I do an hour's stand-up act, but if you took out the swearing, it would be fifteen minutes.
I cope with disappointment ... by taking about it to my wife Irene.  We've been married for 44 years and she's a great help.  I suppose not being picked for the England team what won the World Cup in 1966 was my biggest disappointment, but there have been other things that haven't worked out.
I don't hate anyone ... and I don't really admire anyone, although I like a lot of people.
When I put my feet up ... I watch TV.  My all-time favourite would be Lovejoy.  It is set in Essex, where I live, and I think antiques are a fascinating subject.  I love Art Deco porcelain; I've been collecting Clarice Cliff for a few years.
I learnt from my parents ... how to enjoy the good things in life, probably as a reaction against the way they had to struggle in the Fifties.  Although my father had a regular wage as a Tube train driver, there was nothing left at the end of the week.  Cars have been my big weakness.  I know I should be a Mondeo man now, but I have a brand new Series 7 BMW.
The worst thing about family life ... is the worry.  the minute you have kids you start worrying and it never stops.  Worry is closely followed by cost.
I would like to be remembered ... for something I haven't done yet.  I'm remembered for football, but that was 30 years ago and then for being on TV, but that was a good few years ago.  I'm doing a 24-date tour with George Best.  I hope he'll be up to it.  I don't know why he does what he does.  I had my own drinking problems but it's 24 years since I had a drink.


I have regrets about lots of things ... my biggest professional regret is retiring from league football too early.  At the time, I wanted to get on with building a business and I felt I'd had enough.  It was too soon; I was only 31.


Am I afraid of death ? ...  Yes, but by the time I get to 95, I might be ready to accept it.


The trait that I consider most important in another person ...  is kindness.  I particularly like kindness to animals.


I get upset about ... slimeballs who sue when they injure themselves while breaking into someone's house.


My most embarrassing moment was ... I had plenty when I was drunk, but fortunately, I never remembered them.


One piece of advice I would like to pass on is ... whatever happens in life, never lose your sense of humour.




Season League FA Cup League Cup European Cup European Cup Winner's Cup
1957-58 (Chelsea) 35 (22 goals) - (- goals) - - -
1958-59 (Chelsea) 42 (32goals) - (- goals) - - -
1959-60 (Chelsea) 40 (29 goals) - (- goals) - - -
1960-61 (Chelsea) 40 (41 goals) - (- goals) - - -
1961-62 (AC Milan) 10 (9 goals) - (- goals) - - -
1961-62 (THFC) 22 (21 goals) - (- goals) - - (- goals) - (- goals)
1962-63 (THFC) 41 (37 goals) - (- goals) - - (- goals) - (- goals)
1963-64 (THFC) 41 (35 goals) - (- goals) - - -
1964-65 (THFC) 41 (29 goals) - (- goals) - - -
1965-66 (THFC) 29 (15 goals) - (- goals) - - -
1966-67 (THFC) 38 (25 goals) - (- goals) - (- goals) - (- goals) - (- goals)
1967-68 (THFC) 39 (23 goals) - (- goals) - (- goals) - -
1968-69 (THFC) 42 (27 goals) - (- goals) - (- goals) - -
1969-70 (THFC) 29 (8 goals) - (- goals) - (- goals) - -
1969-70 (West Ham United) 6 (4 goals) - (- goals) - (- goals) - -

                For other articles on Jimmy Greaves

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              By - Dave Ballantyne
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