'Terribly sad': World mourns death of England legend Jimmy Greaves

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Seen here, England legend Jimmy Greaves passed away at the age of 81.
Jimmy Greaves is being remembered as the greatest striker England has produced. Pic: Getty

The football world has been left saddened by the death of England striker Jimmy Greaves, who is being remembered as one of the greatest strikers in the nation's history.

An all-round striker equally adept with either foot or his head, Greaves scored 44 goals in just 57 matches for England, including a record six hat-tricks.

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With 266 goals in 379 appearances, Greaves remains the all-time leading scorer for Tottenham, with the striker also featuring for Chelsea, AC Milan and West Ham over a stellar career.

For all the goals scored the iconic marksman scored, it was the game Greaves missed out on that proved an enduring heartache for the man who stands as England's greatest striker.

Sustaining a leg injury that required 14 stitches in the final group stage match at the 1966 World Cup, Greaves lost his place to Geoff Hurst. 

In an era before substitutes were allowed, there was no way back into the lineup and it was Hurst's hat trick in the final that won England's only title.

Pictured here, Jimmy Greaves with fellow England World Cup winner Geoff Hurst.
Jimmy Greaves is seen here with fellow England World Cup winner Geoff Hurst. Pic: Getty

Despite his legendary scoring exploits, it wasn't enough to earn a recall from England manager Alf Ramsey after the injury against France in the third game at the 1966 World Cup.

Greaves famously sat impassively on the bench as the Three Lions celebrated at the final whistle after the 4-2 victory over West Germany.

"It was devastating for me that I didn't play in the final," Greaves recalled. 

"I always believed that we would win the World Cup and I'd be part of it, but I wasn't.

Hurst remembered Greaves on Sunday as "one of the truly great goal scorers" after the beloved striker passed away at 81.

"Jimmy has always said it was a bitter blow," Hurst recalled last year. 

"There is no way that team would have changed had he not been injured (against France). Leaving Jimmy Greaves out was not an option. You hear the term genius, and it is the one word which applies to Jimmy."

There was a minute's applause before Tottenham played in the Premier League against Chelsea, fittingly a match between the two clubs where he scored the lion's share of his goals.

"The finest marksman this country has ever seen," Tottenham said, announcing Greaves died early Sunday. 

"He possessed immaculate ball control, great balance and such composure in front of goal that he rarely spurned an opportunity."

Social media was inundated with tributes to Greaves as well, as fans paid honour to a giant of the sport.

Jimmy Greaves' exploits were legendary

James Peter Greaves was born in east London on February 20, 1940, and signed for Chelsea, aged 17.

At 20 years and 290 days, he became the youngest player to reach 100 league goals in English soccer and scored a club-record 41 times in the 1960-61 season to secure a lucrative move to Milan.

He scored nine goals in 12 games but failed to settle in Italy. He ended his brief stay to return to London with Tottenham, where he would spend the next nine years and hit a club-record 266 goals in 380 games.

Greaves was famous for being anonymous during matches before popping up to score a crucial goal.

"All Greaves did this afternoon was score four goals," Spurs boss Bill Nicholson once said.

In 1962-63, he scored twice in a 5-1 Cup Winners Cup win over Atletico Madrid, which made Tottenham the first British side to win a European trophy, and was the first division's leading scorer - a feat he would repeat in 1964, '65 and '69.

"You'd be irritated that he'd not touched the ball and then bang, back of the net," former Tottenham teammate Alan Mullery recalled Sunday.

Greaves switched to West Ham in 1970, with former England teammate Martin Peters moving the other way in a record 200,000-pound transfer, but retired at the end of the season after a record total of 357 goals in 516 league matches.

He made a brief comeback for non-league Barnet in 1978 but soon quit again and moved into television, where he co-presented the popular long-running Saturday show "Saint and Greavsie" on ITV in Britain with former Liverpool player Ian St John, who died in March.

with agencies

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