Jimmy Greaves made MBE in New Year Honours list
Former West Ham United forward Jimmy Greaves has been made an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in HM The Queen's New Year Honours List.
A prolific marksman who scored more than 350 goals for Chelsea, AC Milan, Tottenham Hotspur and the Hammers, Greaves, until recently, held the record for the most career goals scored in Europe's top five leagues - 366 - before Cristiano Ronaldo surpassed him in 2017.
Born in Manor Park in east London, Greaves came through the youth ranks at Chelsea, making his debut aged 17 on the opening day of the 1957/58 season. He scored an incredible 132 goals in 169 games for the west London side, and was only 20 years and 290 days old when he reached the 100-goal mark.
He joined AC Milan just before the abolition of the maximum wage in England in 1961, but despite continuing to score goals at an impressive rate, he did not settle in Italy and returned to England with Tottenham before the year was out. He holds Spurs’ all-time scoring record with 268 goals, winning the FA Cup in 1962 and 1967 and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963.
His final appearance for England arrived in 1967 but Greaves remains his country's fourth-highest goalscorer, having netted 44 goals in 57 caps.
Then 30, Greaves moved to West Ham as part of an exchange deal with the late Martin Peters – one of his 1966 World Cup-winning squadmates – in 1970, and scored two goals in a 5-1 First Division win at Manchester City on his debut, playing alongside the likes of Hurst, Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking and Ronnie Boyce.
It was at the 1966 World Cup finals where an injury to Greaves in the final group game allowed another of his future teammates, Sir Geoff Hurst, the chance to come into Alf Ramsey’s side and go on to score the hat-trick in the final that clinched the Jules Rimet Trophy.
The former Hammer, 79, had no hesitation in naming Greaves as the greatest English striker there has ever been.
“We played almost a season together – it was a great privilege to play with one of the greatest players you’d ever seen,” Hurst told the PA news agency. “I probably wish we’d played together when we were a bit younger, and more games with him for the national side.
“There have been some great players but forwards are judged on goals, and there’s nobody who could touch him."
The 80-year-old's unique qualities on and off the football pitch mark him out as easily the best English forward of all time, according to Hurst.
You hear the term 'genius', and it is the one word which applies to Jimmy
Sir Geoff Hurst
Hurst recalled: “I am asked is there any animosity between Jimmy and I, because I took his place? But not for one second.
“Jimmy has always said it was a bitter blow. 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.
“I played against him for West Ham when he was at Spurs, and in one game he missed a penalty and put it over the bar. He came back across the centre circle and said ‘Geoff, sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t’. That was the ‘don’t give a s***’ attitude that you need.
“In a crowded penalty area, 20 people in it, he would always anticipate and find space and the ball would then come to him. Jimmy would always expect the ball – it would bounce off three players, the crossbar twice and the goalkeeper but he would be ready and prepared to just tap it in. It was quite a unique skill.”
Everybody at West Ham United would like to congratulate Jimmy Greaves on his remarkable achievement.