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Jimmy Greaves. Every bit as good as Lionel Messi

Jimmy Greaves. Every bit as good as Lionel Messi

Happy 77th birthday Jimmy Greaves.

I know the man is still recovering from illness and that a birthday may well not be high on his agenda, but I’d happily send him my best wishes.

Jimmy Greaves was one of the very best footballers I ever saw play the game.

How on earth would I describe the magic of Jimmy Greaves to someone too young to have seen him play for Spurs, West Ham or England? I can’t. I am just so grateful that my elder brothers ensured I saw him in action. He was one of those footballers you tried to imitate in the school playground, or in a competitive match.

Just how good was Jimmy Greaves

The cheeky chappie. Greavsie, a magician on the ball

Greavsie was a wizard. A cheeky footballer. Impish. He played football with a smile on his face. How rare is that these days?

For my generation exciting players were wingers, or dribblers. Jimmy could dribble. And then some.

For a later generation he was one half of the TV duo ‘Saint and Greavsie.’ His football career and his alcoholism by then distant memories, Jimmy could be both funny and controversial at lunchtimes on ITV.

One of the best books I have ever read was ‘This One’s on Me.’ The first Jimmy Greaves autobiography written in collaboration with his lifelong friend, the sports journalist Norman Giller. If you have not read it, but can find a copy, buy it and read the first warts ‘n all account of a footballer who turns to drink. Whose fall from grace took him from the high of being a member of the England World Cup squad of 1966, to the low of rummaging through bins for a drop of drink.

Here’s a four minute chat I had with Norman Giller about Jimmy. A player he says was as good as Lionel Messi.

Happy birthday Greavsie and get well soon.

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