Former team-mates pay tribute to Greavsie
Mon 20 September 2021, 16:02|Tottenham Hotspur
Tributes have come pouring in from across the game following Sunday’s sad news of the passing of Jimmy Greaves.
Our record goalscorer with 266 goals in 379 appearances between 1961 and 1970, ‘Greavsie’ is widely regarded as the finest marksman this country has ever seen.
Jimmy passed away at home in the early hours of Sunday morning, aged 81, and a number of his former Spurs team-mates have lavished praise on him – as they always have done – in the hours since...
Spurs striker, 1968 to 1976
“It was just a pleasure to be in the dressing room with him because he was always confident, very bubbly, he went out on the football field knowing that the defenders were going to try to kick him up in the air but he jinked in and out, always had a smile on his face and looked as if he was floating across the surface. He was very nimble on his feet. The one problem I had with him was that I’d give him a pass outside the box but it never came back to me... although it ended up in the net after beating three more players! He was just a lovely man, a wonderful man and I thank him for getting me to this football club because it was he who mentioned to Bill Nicholson to sign me after we'd played against the Irish League in Dublin, so I thank you very much, Jim.
"The goalscoring, he had a knack of going into a position where other players would think it was wrong. We would be challenging for the ball and he would go to an open space and, lo and behold, the ball would come to him. He was like a magnet in the penalty area. We all thought it was a little bit of luck but he must have had intuition to be able to know where the ball might finish and he finished it very, very well. He was the greatest at this football club, without doubt."
Spurs defender, 1963 to 1975
“He was a great man. In the early days he looked after me a little bit – I used to keep an eye on him a bit as well. I remember one game at White Hart Lane, I looked across in the changing room and there was smoke coming out of the top of the toilet – I think Jimmy was just having a quiet cigarette before he went out!”
Spurs midfielder, defender and former captain, 1969 to 1986
“He was a professional goalscorer. That was it, from start to finish – he knew how to score a goal. He didn't really want to run about but he 'thought' the game and he floated over the grass. Can you imagine how bad those pitches were? He floated over them, he glided over them and when defenders like me were running through the ground, he was floating on top of it. What a player! He definitely did not enjoy training, trust me! Anything to do with running, he wasn't involved. I think he felt the more he did some of the running, it would take away from his pace. His game was built on that first two or three metres. He was very single-minded – his job was to be on there and score a goal. He lived for scoring goals and it didn’t affect him if he missed one.”
Spurs goalkeeper, 1964 to 1977, 1985 to 1986
“He was without a doubt the greatest and I know because I’m a goalkeeper just what his strengths were. He was the best, the greatest. I’ll never forget him and what he was like with me because when I joined the Club at 18 or 19, it would have been 15 months earlier I was playing in the Irish B League so I was still learning the game, I’m sure there were some people who might have thought I should have done better on shots, I maybe parried them instead of holding them and I know that some of the players were giving me looks saying ‘could you not have done better with that?’ but Jim put his arm around me and said ‘come on Pat, you’re going to be the greatest goalkeeper going son’. I’ve never forgotten that side of him. He was such a superstar but still he knew how I was feeling and the encouragement he gave me… he was an absolute gentleman. I always tell the story about our first international, England and Northern Ireland, the game finished 4-3 and Jimmy scored a hat-trick – that was my mate against me! So, yes, I have unbelievable memories of him.”
Spurs midfielder, 1957 to 1967
“One of the things I remember about Jimmy was the great goal he got against Manchester United – he just seemed to glide over the ground. He was incredible when he scored this particular goal. I was involved in the move, I didn’t do a lot but I was in the move and that was how I saw it – he never seemed to touch the ground. Another thing with Eddie Baily which I thought was quite funny… Jimmy wasn’t a great trainer, he was always at the back of the pack and Eddie was shouting, ‘Greavsie, get up here!’ and he turned to me while we were running and said, ‘he’s driving me up the wall… but I love him!’ which I thought was nice. It was the type of person he was. Jimmy seemed naturally fit really and he was so quick as well. It came easily to him. He had no ego, he was down to earth. He was Jimmy, just one of the boys, but a great player in his own right and a great guy.
“I remember when he was playing together with Gilly (Alan Gilzean) – it was a nightmare to play against those two! They were both wonderful players but Jimmy seemed to take everything in his stride. I played golf a few times with him and he was no different then – and he used to beat me at that as well! I remember being on the train coming back from one of the games, I ended up being in the compartment with him and he loved his pipe – he used to sit there with his feet up having a smoke. He just got on with life and had a good laugh. That was the kind of guy he was.”