Jimmy Greaves would have been worth as much as Lionel Messi and Ronaldo if he played now – he’d of scored more too

It would be very interesting to know just how many millions Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp would have been prepared to pay if they had the chance to buy Jimmy Greaves when he was in his prime.

It is a pointless exercise trying to compare great footballers of different eras but it always provides heated discussions among the fans.


Greaves in action for Spurs[/caption]

Getty Images – Getty

The English footballing legend has died aged 81[/caption]

But I would be prepared to argue until I’m claret and blue in the face if you put Greavsie in todays Barcelona or Real Madrid shirt he would score as many, if not more goals, than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

It is much easier for Messi and Ronaldo to score playing on the manicured lawns they have grown up on than the clinging mud-heaps Jimmy had to contend with.

And it mustn’t be forgotten in Greaves day there were no TV cameras to protect him from the assassins who called themselves defenders.

You don’t have to be a professional soccer scout to know when you see a goal-scoring genius and I shall never forget the first time I set eyes on Jimmy.

It was Easter Monday, 1957. I had just got home from Cyprus having finished my two years National Service in the RAF.

West Ham were away and my old man persuaded me to go with him to see the England-Ireland youth international at Leyton Orient’s ground.

We paid one penny for the programme and joined the couple of thousand on the Brisbane Road terraces as the teams lined up.

Soon after the kick-off the England No.8 with the brush crew-cut and baggy shorts received the ball on edge of the Irish penalty area.

In a flash he dribbled passed three green-shirted defenders and slotted the ball in the corner of the net.

My old man and I looked at each other and he said Who the bloody hell is that?”! I think he said bloody.

A quick glance at the programme told us it was J.Greaves (Chelsea).

That unforgettable afternoon J.Greaves (Chelsea) scored a hat-trick in twenty minutes and ended up wiih five of England’s six goals. He was 16-years-old.

We knew we had been watching someone who was quite outstanding but we had no idea he as going to go on and become one of the games most prolific goal-scoring machines.

A few months later he scored on his debut for Chelsea in the old First Division and in the four years he was with the club he hit the net 124 times – averaging 31 a season.

Before his top-flight career was over he scored a quite remarkable 357 goals. And 44 in an England shirt.

Ah the youngsters will say that’s nothing compared to Wayne Rooney. My answer to that sneer is jimmy had 57 caps – Rooney more than 100.

I will have to concede that Greaves was nowhere near as good an-round player as the Messi’s and Ronaldo’s of the 21st century.

In fact I wouldn’t have been surprised if he couldn’t get in one of Jose Mourino’s, or other modern manager’s teams.

You see he didn’t double back to cover his full-back. Maybe because his full-backs didn’t cross the half-way line.

I have been a West Ham fan for eighty years and in my time I have seen, in the flesh, some of the greatest strikers of all-time.

Unfortunately Pele isn’t one of them.

But they include, Puskas, Di Stefano,Denis Law,George Best, Bobby Charlton, Tommy Lawton and Eusabio.

But I have never seen anyone with such a predatory instinct for a goal.

Inside the six yard box he was as deadly as a venomous snake and just as quick.

He would pounce on the ball,wriggle like an eel passed disbelieving defenders and hit the back of the net before they could blink.

He couldn’t explain how he did it. He didn’t have a secret formula or strategy that he could pass on to youngsters – most of the time what he did was pure instinct.

My heart was always in my mouth when he played against the Hammers.

He didn’t just score half-chances – he scored quarter-chances.

After scoring 220 times for Spurs he joined West Ham in 1970. But by then because of his excessive drinking the spark had gone out of his game.

Yet he still managed to score 13 times in 38 matches. If only David Moyes had someone that good now.

I have so many memories of Jimmy when he was at his deadliest playing for Spurs, Chelsea,West Ham and England.

So what was the greatest goal I saw him score?

The one that is always uppermost in my mind was the night I was watching Match of the Day.

I believe Spurs were playing Sunderland. He picked up the ball in the centre-circle and went on this mazy run.

He ghosted by four floundering defenders, dribbled round the despairing on-rushing keeper and stroked the ball into the net with a nonchalance of a master craftsman.

Unfortunately I can’t boast that Jimmy was a friend of mine though I did meet him on many occasions.

Despite his fame he was extremely modest and down-to-earth.

He would never dream of saying so but some of the behaviour of the multi-millionaire super-stars who grace the game now would have appalled him.

When he became a TV star with Ian St.John the nation was able to enjoy his cheeky Cockney humour.

There’s no doubt Greaves sits comfortably alongside Bobby Moore, Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Stanley Matthews, George Best Wayne Rooney and the other giants of British football.

I just wish someone could explain to me why he was never Sir Jimmy.


(Visited 28 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply