Tottenham and Chelsea fans came together and offered an emotional tribute to Jimmy Greaves, who passed away on Sunday, ahead of the two club’s Premier League clash.
Greaves, who died at the age of 81 after a period of illness, was regarded as England’s greatest ever striker, scoring 44 goals in 57 games for his country, including six hat-tricks.
But he was even more a cult hero and club legend on both sides of London. He is Tottenham’s all-time top scorer with an incredible 266 goals in 379 games, while at Chelsea, where his career began in 1957, he managed 132 goals in just 169 matches.
Tottenham and Chelsea both observed a minute’s applause to celebrate Jimmy Greaves
Spurs players clapped the club’s all-time top goal-scorer, who died on Sunday at the age of 81
Chelsea players also celebrated Greaves, who scored 132 goals in just 169 games for the club
Fittingly, players and supporters enthusiastically participated in a minute’s applause to celebrate Greaves before kick-off at White Hart Lane.
Both teams lined up on the centre circle to clap Greaves as his image was shown on the stadium screens around the ground.
Before the match, Spurs striker Harry Kane said: ‘First and foremost our condolences to Jimmy’s family and friends. Obviously a sad day, but a day that hopefully we can celebrate. Hopefully we can put on a great performance in his honour. He was a legend for club and country.’
When asked about Greaves’ Spurs record, Kane said: ‘Incredible, frightening really. How good a player he was, the goal ratio he returned. To look at those numbers and hopefully break them one day is incredible.’
Several ex-Spurs players, including Ossie Ardiles, Steve Perryman, Ledley King and Glenn Hoddle were all pitch-side paying their respects.
Tottenham and England striker Harry Kane (right) called Greaves (left) a ‘legend’
Ex-Tottenham Hotspur players celebrated Greaves at the game: (L-R) Graham Roberts, Ossie Ardiles, Gary Mabbutt, Ledley King, Paul Allen, Micky Hazard, Steve Perryman, Glenn Hoddle, Martin Chivers and Michael Dawson
The Spurs legend (left) was known as one of the greatest ever goal scorers in English football
Former club captain Perryman was interviewed on the pitch at half-time and said: ‘He was a professional goalscorer. That was it. From start to finish he knew how to score a goal.
‘He didn’t run around, but he floated across the pitch. When defenders like me are running through the ground he was floating on top of it. What a player.
‘He did not enjoy training, anything that was running he was not involved. He thought it would take away from his pace. His job was to be on there and to score goals. He lived for scoring goals.’
Greaves scored 447 goals in total across his club career, which also included a spell at West Ham and AC Milan. His health deteriorated significantly after he suffered a severe stroke in 2015.
Greaves began his playing career at Chelsea and became a goal scoring sensation in England
His former Spurs team-mate Alan Mullery told Sky Sports: ‘He was a wonderful, wonderful footballer, the best goalscorer to ever play.
‘He had to play (in an era) to stop people kicking lumps out of him, scored goals for fun, you’d be irritated that he’d not touched the ball and then bang, back of the net.
‘I just don’t know how much more I can give (than) to say he was the best goalscorer I have ever seen.
‘I don’t think you can get more famous, everywhere I go, I was in Italy and someone said to me ‘Jimmy Greaves, great scorer’ – he was only there a year!’
Former England team-mate Terry Paine, a fellow member of the 1966 World Cup-winning side, said Greaves would be even more prolific if he played in the modern era.
Greaves was in poor health after suffering a stroke in 2015 and required care four times a day
‘The word is maybe used too much but with him, he was an absolute natural,’ Paine told the PA news agency from his home in South Africa.
‘Any ball in the area, any chance provided to him, he wasn’t a thumper of the ball, he was a placer.
‘You have to remember the conditions he had to play in, his balance was absolutely first class… some of the pitches, you were up to your knees in mud and there he is skating like a ballerina.
‘Think of the goals he would have scored today, particularly with the offside rules as they are. There were so many times when Jimmy was well onside but because of his quickness and sharpness he was always beyond the back four and given offside.
‘Today he would have been untouchable as far as the goal ratio is concerned.’