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jimmy greaves was third in the best english players of the century poll

Jimmy Greaves: Club Career Retrospective

Tottenham Hotspur have had some fantastic footballers lace up their boots and play for them over the years. The list could go on and on, including the likes of Glenn Hoddle, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, and Paul Gascoigne. Of course, in more recent times, Son Heung Min and Harry Kane would be the standout names to add to that list.

Kane departed for Bayern Munich after breaking the record for the most goals scored at the North London Club, but another man was before Kane. The man whose record Kane broke is the focus of our attention today, one of the beautiful game all-time greats, Jimmy Greaves.

Greaves and Kane are winners of multiple Golden Boot awards while playing for Tottenham. With this year’s race for the boot hotting up in the premier league, Harry Kane’s absence means Heung Min Son is the club’s best hope of winning the award this year but his bet odds of 20/1 (or greater) signify it will be unlikely he’ll emulate both Kane and Greaves’ achievements.

Early Career

Affectionately known to most as Greavsey, Jimmy’s career in professional football started with Tottenham Hotspurs Arch rivals Chelsea in 1957; he made his mark in the youth team by featuring in the FA Youth Cup final. Then Greavsey made the step up to the first team. He scored prolifically, scoring 124 goals in the First Division in only four seasons. Oddly, his first goal in the first team came against Tottenham in a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane. His goal-scoring prowess drew attention, leading to a transfer to A.C. Milan in April 1961 for £80,000. However, Greaves’ experience in Italy didn’t meet expectations, prompting his return to England. In December 1961, he found himself in familiar territory, signing with Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of £99,999.

Tottenham Hotspur 

Spurs is the place where Greaves would cement his place as a football icon. During his tenure at Spurs, Greaves clinched several titles, including the FA Cup triumphs in 1961–62 and 1966–67, victories in the Charity Shield in 1962 and 1967, and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1962–63. Despite his achievements, a league title eluded him ( a common theme for Spurs players, unfortunately). However, he was pivotal in guiding Spurs to a commendable second-place finish in 1962–63.

His goal-scoring record at Tottenham was phenomenal. He has more top-flight goals than any other play to play in England’s top league. He managed to bag 357 goals in 516 games. Alan Shearer’s premier league record is 283 goals in 559—268 of the goals being scored for Spurs. As the saying goes, football didn’t start in 1992.

Late Career 

In March 1970, Greaves switched to West Ham United as part of the deal that saw Martin Peters move to White Hart Lane. Although Brian Clough’s Derby County had shown interest in him, Greaves opted to remain in London. Reflecting on his decision later, Greaves acknowledged that Clough might have allowed him to rejuvenate his career, much like he did for his former Tottenham teammate Dave Mackay. Subsequently, Greaves expressed regret over his move to Upton Park. He marked his debut for the “Hammers” on 21 March by netting two goals in a 5–1 victory against Manchester City at Maine Road.

He ended his playing career at semi-professional side Woodford Town in 1980. Greavsey also has a storied international career with England, which we can review another day. He passed away on 19 September 2021 at the age of 81.

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