Jimmy Greaves is a true hero – he's finally got the recognition he deserves

Jimmy Greaves is the greatest goalscorer in English football history.

That alone should be reason enough to honour a player who gave so much pleasure to so many people.

But there are so many other great facets to one of the all time greats and one of football’s most loveable characters.

Greaves, 80, became a national treasure and a lovable figure to those of a certain generation with the Saint and Greavsie show in the 1980s and early 90s.

However, arguably his greatest ever achievement was the way he battled and overcame his demons and is a reformed alcoholic. He saved his own life and that of his family.

Greaves has been awarded the MBE
Greaves has been awarded the MBE

We must all know someone in our lives who has been afflicted by drink and Greaves is perhaps the best example to anyone about strength of character and determination.

A stroke five years ago has robbed him of so much and yet the fighter in him remains along with the twinkle in his eye in that recent photograph of him with Tottenham’s latest great goalscorer Harry Kane.

Greaves said: “I should be dead. But I’m here and I’m fighting fit. Now I want to live until I’m at least 90.”

That is why he is as much of a hero today as he was back in his glory days when he was scoring goals and breaking records in the 1960s.

And it is also why his MBE in the New Year’s honours is long overdue but also very timely along with Ron Flowers who, like Greaves, was a part of England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad.

Greaves playing for Spurs in 1969

It will ensure that all living members of Sir Alf Ramsey’s squad have at least an MBE even if perhaps Greaves’ achievements as footballer, TV personality and example to us all deserve a knighthood.

Greaves was a great goalscorer and also a scorer of great goals. But it was also his relationship with the crowd which made him a true icon and arguably the most natural goalscorer of all time.

He was a superstar back in the 1960s, unique in the way he played the game and had a remarkable knack of scoring exceptional goals back in an era when there were so many characters.

It was always a two way relationship with the crowd, they loved him as much as he loved them and he enjoyed nothing more than playing up to it.

Greaves started at Chelsea, went to AC Milan but his best years were at Tottenham and is the highest goalscorer in the history of English top flight football with 357 goals, Tottenham’s record goalscorer with 266 and England’s fourth highest goalscorer with 44.

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Lifelong Tottenham fan Mike Collett, 67, who grew up idolising Greaves, believes his greatest ever goal was against Leicester when there was no TV cameras in the ground.

“He dribbled round four Leicester defenders from inside his own half, then rounded a young Peter Shilton and even people like Norman Giller (Spurs historian and author) will agree that was his greatest ever goal,” said Collett.

“I think there’s only ever been two players since in the next 50 years who were blessed with such an effortless goalscoring ability. Robbie Fowler for a short while at his peak and Michael Owen. But Jimmy was a goalscorer way ahead of his time.”

The greatest and most surreal moment for the brilliantly entertaining Saint and Greavsie was somehow getting Donald Trump to do the fifth round of the Rumbelows Cup from Trump Towers in the US.

“This is some pad you’ve got here, isn’t it?” Greaves said to Trump. “I haven’t seen a boardroom like this since I was at Doug Ellis’s at Aston Villa.”

Finally, one of English football’s all time greats and a hero both on and off the pitch has got the recognition he deserves.


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