Former England, Tottenham and Chelsea striker Jimmy Greaves has died at the age of 81, Spurs have announced.
Greaves suffered a stroke in May 2015 which has left him wheelchair-bound and with severely impaired speech and Tottenham said he had died at home on Sunday morning.
The Premier League club said in a statement: “We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of the great Jimmy Greaves, not just Tottenham’s record goalscorer but the finest marksman this country has ever seen. Jimmy passed away at home in the early hours of this morning, aged 81.
“Throughout his wonderful playing career, Jimmy’s strike rate was phenomenal. His Spurs return was 266 goals in 379 appearances between 1961 and 1970 – 220 goals in 321 league games, 32 goals in 36 FA Cup ties, five in just eight League Cup ties and nine in 14 European matches.”
A member of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad, although he did not feature in the final victory over West Germany, Greaves scored 44 goals across 57 senior appearances for the Three Lions.
His career began in the junior ranks at Chelsea and he turned professional in May 1957, scoring on his Blues debut and racking up 132 goals in total for the club. He remained at Stamford Bridge until 1961, when he moved to AC Milan. After a single season in Milan he joined Spurs in 1961 to play in Bill Nicholson’s successful side.
The Tottenham statement continued: “Although we had just won the ‘Double’, there’s no question that Jimmy’s arrival in N17 made us an even better team.
“He was a natural goalscorer, always in the right place at the right time to add the finishing touch to another well-worked move, while he could also create his own goals, as he did on numerous occasions by gliding past defenders and passing the ball into the back of the net.
“He possessed immaculate ball control, great balance and such composure in front of goal that he rarely spurned an opportunity.”
Reacting to Greaves’ death on Sky Sports News, former Tottenham midfielder Jamie O’Hara said: “We are going to be able to witness that (grief) today, everyone will see it, and an amazing round of applause for him (at Tottenham v Chelsea).
“It’s not easy to build a legacy at a club, Jimmy was an icon, football legend, Spurs have been very lucky to have such a great player as part of their club.
“A truly sad day to have lost someone so great. He is definitely a legend.”
Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand tweeted: “Big loss to the footballing world.. sending my condolences to the Greaves family. “First autobiography I ever read! Inspiration.”
Greaves wound down his playing career with stints at West Ham and Barnet before starring alongside former Liverpool striker Ian St John in the popular ITV programme ‘Saint and Greavsie’ between 1985 and 1992, which saw him become a popular pundit.
West Ham tweeted: “We are saddened to learn the news of the passing of Jimmy Greaves. The club sends its deepest condolences to Jimmy’s family and friends.”
After a long campaign for his England achievements of 1966 to be recognise, Greaves finally received a World Cup winners’ medal in 2009; five years later he sold it in an auction at Sotheby’s for £44,000.
In later life, Greaves endured health problems, including a minor stroke in 1992 from which he recovered, but it was followed by a serious stroke in May 2015 which saw him unconscious for six days in intensive care and later left in a wheelchair.