'The entire game will mourn him': Tributes to football great Jimmy Greaves
- Credit: PA
Tributes have been paid to Manor Park-born Jimmy Greaves after the legendary striker's death.
The 81-year-old was the fourth-highest all-time goalscorer for England and a two-time FA Cup winner who just missed out on a place in the World Cup final winning team of 1966.
A long-time resident of east London and west Essex, Greaves held the record for goals in Europe’s top five leagues (366) for 46 years, before being eclipsed by Cristiano Ronaldo in 2016-17.
One of his former clubs Tottenham called him their "greatest ever player" while England manager Gareth Southgate said Greaves was "admired by all who love football".
Former England star turned TV presenter Gary Lineker described Greaves as a "giant" of football and a "charismatic, knowledgeable and witty man".
Greaves was born in Manor Park on February 20, 1940, though, as he recalled in his autobiography: “Manor Park wasn’t home for very long. Six weeks after I was born Hitler’s bombers paid our street a visit.”
His family moved to Ivyhouse Road, Dagenham, where Greaves lived until 1950 when his father was promoted from a guard on the District Line to a Tube driver on the newly extended Central Line, moving the family to a newly built home in Huntsman Road, Hainault.
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After being scouted as a schoolboy, Greaves signed with Chelsea in 1955 and later moved abroad - rare at the time - to play for AC Milan.
On his return to England, Greaves became the most expensive player in English football, signing with Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of £99,000 – manager Bill Nicholson insisted on the fee, not wanting the player to be burdened by being England’s first £100,000 footballer.
The club also bought Greaves his family home of many years in The Fairway, Upminster.
The striker enjoyed some of his most successful years at Tottenham, scoring 266 times in 379 matches for the club, winning the FA Cup twice, as well as the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963.
But it was also in this period that Greaves experienced perhaps his greatest professional disappointment. A shin injury cost him his place in the 1966 World Cup final and he was forced to watch from the side as his replacement – Geoff Hurst – scored a hat-trick to secure the historic win.
After a spell at West Ham and a period of retirement, Greaves returned to play for Brentwood, Chelmsford City, and Barnet, ending his career at Woodford Town.
However, this period in his life was marred by alcoholism – something which he attributed in part to the death of his infant son in 1961.
He quit drinking in 1978 and went on to have a successful career in broadcasting, presenting Saint and Greavsie alongside former Liverpool striker Ian St John.
Tottenham announced Greaves' passing on Sunday (September 19), expressing their "deepest sympathies" to his family and friends.
England manager Southgate said Greaves was "admired by all who love football," adding: "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."
Former Tottenham teammate Cliff Jones tweeted his condolences and told the BBC that Greaves had helped him overcome his own alcohol addiction.
In a statement, Newham Council chair Cllr Winston Vaughan and Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz expressed their sadness at the passing of a "Newham legend" who they said was "proud to be from Manor Park".
They praised his achievements on the pitch, as well as "his courage in dealing with his own addiction to alcohol" in a time when the issue was less well understood.
In 2015, Greaves backed a campaign in Redbridge to save a football field from development.
In 2009 he received a World Cup winners’ medal along with other members of the 1966 squad who had not played in the final and this January he was given an MBE.
He is survived by his wife Irene, sons Andy and Danny, and daughters Lynn and Mitzi.