Jimmy Greaves, one of England’s all-time greatest soccer players, died Saturday. He was 81.
England coach Gareth Southgate had spent more than a decade with Greaves during his playing days. He shared this tweet:
One of the greatest goals scored by an Englishman ever! A true gentleman and a great inspiration. My thoughts are with his family. I know everyone feels that. https://t.co/TS5Nu3NQcv — Gareth Southgate (@GarethSouthgate) March 10, 2018
The legendary striker appeared in 391 professional matches for the English clubs Portsmouth, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham and Leicester.
His career best was a hat trick of hat tricks in the 1962 FA Cup semifinal in a 5-3 victory against Liverpool. He’s one of only four players in English soccer history to score 200 goals.
Greaves often said he dreamed as a child about following in his father’s footsteps and playing in the Premier League for his beloved Everton. His father was an astute trading on the London commodities markets.
“Everton had my heart in childhood – it was always going to be there,” Greaves told ESPN in 2001. “Everton was such a great club. I always dreamed of it and was determined one day to play for it.”
However, Greaves sustained a horrific knee injury in 1964 during his rookie season in Europe’s Major Soccer League, and two years later he had the season of his life at West Ham.
Greaves told Ian Wooldridge for the 20th anniversary of the 1968 Wimbledon FA Cup Final that the Hammers played a perfect match that day. “They were as close to perfect as you could get. There’s only one reason we lost. We conceded a goal in a crazy way and it cost us a chance of winning the game,” Greaves said.
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Footage of Greaves’ miracle “Miracle” shot from the 1960 World Cup against West Germany in Stuttgart has been going viral on social media, as the ball was seen to appear to stay in the air all the way for 10 or more seconds before rolling towards the goal, touching the crossbar and bouncing into the net.