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Jimmy Greaves was a genius and the best striker I played against | John Giles

Tottenham and England legend Jimmy Greaves has passed away at the age of 81. At 17 years of age, ...

Cian Fahey
Cian Fahey

13:46 19 Sep 2021



Jimmy Greaves was a genius and...
Soccer

Jimmy Greaves was a genius and the best striker I played against | John Giles

Cian Fahey
Cian Fahey

13:46 19 Sep 2021

Tottenham and England legend Jimmy Greaves has passed away at the age of 81.

At 17 years of age, Greaves scored 22 league goals. At 18, he scored 32. He scored 29 at 19 and 41 as a 20-year-old.

Greaves scored more than 100 league goals before turning 21 for Chelsea but he's famous for what he did at Tottenham. That's how spectacular his career was. He could have that goal-scoring record before turning 21 and it's just a footnote.

He was the first player to ever score 100 league goals for two different clubs. Alan Shearer, the Premier League's all-time leading scorer, finished his career 50 goals behind Greaves. Harry Kane is still 54 goals behind his club-leading record of 220 at Tottenham. Greaves scored 422 total goals in 602 club appearances and won the World Cup with England in 1966.

Former Ireland international John Giles recalls Greaves as a player on par with Lionel Messi and the best striker he ever played against.

"He was a genius. What a finisher," Giles said.

"This was a time when the pitches weren't great. I played against him probably over a 10-year period. Some we won, some we lost but one of my first experiences of him was in the semi-final of the cup for Manchester United in 1962...it was early on in my career with Jimmy Greaves.

Danny Bernstar took a quick free kick in over the top of the defence and Jimmy Greaves was through, as he was a lot of times, on his own. And I was a midfield player running back. I wasn't going to get anywhere near him but I had a great view of what he was doing.

He made the goal look a mile wide. He took the inside right position, left-footed and it looked like the goalkeeper was standing on the touchline. That's what a genius does when they get through. A lot of players who are not good finishers, the goalkeeper looks like a giant.

He was absolutely brilliant. One of the great players.

We played against him regularly but Norman Hunter used to hate him...Norman said 'I don't know how he does it. He hasn't had a kick of the ball all match and he still scored against me.' He used to score against everybody regularly.”

Greaves' goal-scoring record is undeniable and Giles remembers him as a character as much as a player.

“He wasn't terribly big, but he was very, very quick.

Great balance, great control...he was brilliant at what he did. Didn't have a great shot, didn't score many goals from outside the box...but he could make it look like the goalkeeper wasn't even there.

He'd a great attitude as well.

I played against him at Spurs one time and he got a good tackle on me. He won the ball and the referee gave a free-kick against him. He said 'Referee that's the only bleeding tackle I've won all season and you've given a free-kick against me.' So he was that type of lad, he was a jolly type of lad.

Not a bad bone in his body but brave when he had to be brave.

I can't speak too highly of him, he was a genius. He was probably the best striker I ever played against.”

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