Soccer salutes 'best scorer ever' Greaves

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Footballing greats past and present have hailed Jimmy Greaves as "the best goalscorer to ever play" and compared him to Lionel Messi as tributes poured in following the death of the former Tottenham, Chelsea and England striker.

Greaves, who died at home on Sunday morning aged 81, was described by his old Spurs and England teammate Alan Mullery as "a wonderful, wonderful footballer, the best goalscorer to ever play.

"He had to play (in an era) with people kicking lumps out of him, yet still scored goals for fun. You'd be irritated that he'd not touched the ball and then, bang, back of the net. He was the best goalscorer I've ever seen."

Former England teammate Terry Paine, a fellow member of England's 1966 World Cup-winning squad, said "he was an absolute natural".

"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."

Ossie Ardiles, who played for Spurs throughout the 1980s, tweeted: "RIP Jimmy. Great player, great man. Very funny. Humble. Jimmy epitomises what Spurs is: 'To dare is to do'..."

Tottenham teammate Martin Chivers said the modern-day player he would compare him to is Argentina superstar Messi.

"You'd have to look at Messi, how he jinks in and out. Jimmy was like that. They'd fly out at him, but he'd tap the ball in the net," he told Sky Sports.

"He was a cheeky chappy, one that always put me into trouble, all pranks and jokes. But on the field he was deadly. I wonder how he would play on these pitches. As a footballer, he was greedy. I would remember passing to him but very rarely did I get it back!"

England great Gary Lineker, a former Spurs marksman, said Greaves was "quite possibly the greatest striker this country has ever produced. A truly magnificent footballer who was at home both in the box and on the box.

"A charismatic, knowledgeable, witty and warm man. A giant of the sport."

A member of England's 1966 World Cup-winning squad, although he was crestfallen not to feature in the final victory over West Germany, Greaves scored 44 goals across 57 senior appearances.

Sir Geoff Hurst, who scored a famous hat-trick at Wembley as Greaves missed out, paid tribute to his former West Ham teammate, tweeting: "One of the truly great goalscorers, terrific guy with an absolutely brilliant sense of humour, the best."

England manager Gareth Southgate said: "Jimmy certainly deserves inclusion in any list of England's best players.

"We will pay tribute to his memory at our home match with Hungary at Wembley Stadium next month. His place in our history will never be forgotten."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting