BT Sport Films “Greavsie” Hails the Greatest Finisher in English Football History

BT Sport Films “Greavsie” Hails the Greatest Finisher in English Football History

As a journalist, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of interviewing any number of fascinating athletes, players who are idols to millions, including: NBA MVPs like Kobe, Shaq and Kevin Garnett, NFL stars Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, and NHL legends like Wayne Gretzky; along with superstars turned pundits such as Troy Aikman, and Terry Bradshaw, and tennis’ John McEnroe, among dozens of others.

They were all great—attentive, thoughtful, and funny. Like, after agreeing to sign a headshot for my mother, McEnroe “played” up to his former bad boy image and quipped, “Should I spit on it, first?” He didn’t. Funny guy!

But, the athlete who I personally idolized as a kid growing up in Wales, turns 80 on February 20, the same day that an awesome new biography produced by BT Sport Films called “Greavsie” is released.

Rounding


London-born Jimmy Greaves is arguably the greatest finisher in English football history, scoring 357 goals—with nobody coming close to his record (not Alan Shearer, Wayne Rooney or Gary Lineker) for goals at the top level of English football. And, this documentary tells the “tale of the rise, fall and re-birth of one of England’s greatest strikers” with rarely seen archive footage and interviews with some of the game’s biggest names. On-camera, many, like Sir Geoff Hurst who scored a hattrick to inspire England to win the World Cup in 1966, simply call him “a genius in the art of scoring goals.” And, a former teammate, Alan Mullery adds, “He was the best of his time, just like Lionel Messi in the modern day.”

High praise, indeed.

I met Greasvie, who had a mischievous twinkle in his eye that my mum adored, as a nipper when his England national team came to play Wales, and I got his autograph outside Cardiff’s Ninian Park. A couple of years later in Toronto, when his Spurs club team were playing Rangers in a friendly, Greavsie obliged with a hattrick, and then a photo with me and another autograph. Boy, was I pround!

 

Stats

 

Greavsie, who would score goals with his head or either foot, on icy or sloppy fields, was just born to score goals, and he did so for every club he represented, including nine in a short stint for Milan in Italy’s Serie A.

Football was very different back then with players not making the millions they make monthly, so they were closer to the everyday fans. The documentary reports that Greavsie loved football for the game it was and valued the link to supporters. Spurs manager Bill Nicholson encouraged his players to spend time with fans and they would drink after games at local pubs on Tottenham High Road. Graeme Rudge, one of my ex-pat pals and co-founder of LA Spurs, along with Rolfe Jones, says stories still circulate at the Bell and Hare about Greavsie’s presence.

After retiring from football too early and then going through his own personal hell including a bout of alcoholism, Greavsie returned and “reinvented himself and forged a career on TV, first as a strident pundit and then, in tandem with Liverpool and Scotland striker Ian St John, capturing the hearts of a new generation of football lovers with the Saint and Greavsie show.”

SaintGreavsie


Former England striker and now Match of the Day and BT Sport anchor Gary Lineker says: “Jimmy was perhaps the first football star of TV...Football can be a bit overly serious at times, but we’ve got to remember...it’s entertainment and it’s there to be enjoyed and I think Jimmy encapsulated that perfectly. That’s something I’ve tried to take into my television career. It’s important to have light and shade and Jimmy did it perfectly.”

Veteran journalist and author Norman Giller collaborated on 20 books with Greavsie with the author recalling: “The most important collaboration was the first in 1978 when he started to beat the bottle. It was called ‘This One’s On Me,’ in which he was brutally honest in describing how he had hit rock bottom.”

Giller recently interviewed a few Spurs legends at the premier of this awesome BT film. He quotes Spurs Welsh wizard Cliff Jones as saying of Greaves: “Simply the greatest British goal scorer there has ever been,’ he said without hesitation. ‘As good as Messi, and could Lionel have done it on the mud heap pitches on which we played and with defenders like Chopper Harris and Bites-Yer-Legs Hunter allowed to kick you from behind?”

Giller also quotes Glenn ‘the god” Hoddle, one of Tottenham’s legendary playmakers, who told him: “As a mate of Jimmy’s for more than 50 years, I am also proud to play a part in the BT tribute to mark the great man’s upcoming 80th birthday on February 20. It is an emotional rollercoaster and includes many of his greatest goals and footage that will make you laugh, cry, cheer and groan. It’s a masterpiece by producer/director Tom Boswell and his BT crew.”

Premiere

Super agent Terry Baker, who has known Greavsie for yonks through his booking agency, A1 Sporting Speakers, says of the BT movie: “Basically, I gave the go ahead to allow BT Sport the right to make this film, because Jimmy deserves to be remembered and because Tom Boswell has done a great job making it. ‘Greavsie’ is a great watch about a great man—my lifetime hero and my great, great friend. See the only live showing of the film with us in Stevenage on Jimmy’s 80th birthday February 20.”

One more thing that would make our hero’s day—Baker, Giller and Greavsie’s family have been pushing for him to earn a knighthood for his services to football. In fact, the Daily Mail/Sportsmail has launched a campaign for his achievements to be honoured. And, Sir Geoff Hurst concurs, saying, “He deserves recognition at this time in his life. As much for his family and friends and fans as for himself. I fully support the Mail campaign.”

Fingers crossed that the football gods look down favourably on the campaign. And, why not? As Greavsie and Giller have often said, and millions agree, “it is a funny old game”—extraordinarily so.

Check out A1 Sporting Speakers for more information on the live showing of the BT movie; listen to Norman Giller’s personal tribute in song to his longtime pal Greavsie; and, here’s more information on BT Sport Film’s “Greavsie.”

Share this article

Leave your comments

Post comment as a guest

0
terms and condition.
  • James Carroll

    Imagine being so good you get into Spurs all time 11 & Chelsea's all time 11. That's Jimmy Greaves.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: James Carroll

    Indeed, James. I actually think I have a cousin named James Carroll (I've got dozens of first cousins), our mum's maiden name. You're not related to my Uncles George or Paddy Carroll, are you? Cheers!;)

  • James Carroll

    In reply to: ashley collie

    Not sure but we could be related mate.

  • Fazirul Mubin

    Spurs legend

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Fazirul Mubin

    Absolutely legend, Fazirul, what's your fave goal? ;)

  • Fazirul Mubin

    In reply to: ashley collie

    There are so many memorable goals, I can't pick one. COYS !

  • Harry Ramsbottom

    Balance, timing, touch, measured aggression. Jimmy Greaves was a maestro.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Harry Ramsbottom

    What's your fave performance of Greavsie, Harry? ;)

  • Ian Clarke

    He has to go down as one of the greats in English football.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Ian Clarke

    Arise, Sir James, eh, Ian. Got a fave goal? ;)

  • Bernard Jay

    Greatest ever English forward.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Bernard Jay

    Did you see him live and where, Bernard? ;)

  • Bernard Jay

    In reply to: ashley collie

    Saw him playing live 4 times.

  • Darren Cramp

    Thanks for keeping old football alive

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Darren Cramp

    You are welcome, Darren, did you ever see Greavsie live? ;)

  • Emma Austin

    Goals were too easy for him

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Emma Austin

    Emma, that goal vs ManU when he just strode through their defense and passed it into the net. 5-1! ;)

  • Ken Mezrahi

    Deadly with both feet - could also score with his head.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Ken Mezrahi

    What was your fave goal of his, Ken? ;)

  • John Roper

    Superb striker....Jimmy Greaves had it all

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: John Roper

    I became a Spurs fan because of him, what was your most memorable moment, John? ;)

  • Henry King

    Best pure “ finisher” that I have ever seen.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Henry King

    Who would you compare him in today's game, Henry? ;)

  • Henry King

    In reply to: ashley collie

    Different players... I personally prefer Greavsie. Henry is arrogant.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Henry King

    Hahah, no, I wasn't suggesting Thierry Henri, but making reference to you, Henry! Thanks for commenting. ;)

  • Joel Burmeister

    Ahead of his time

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Joel Burmeister

    Joel, how many would he score on today's perfect pitches and no tackles from behind. ;)

  • Liam Thistleton

    A great footballer and as a man utd fan scared the life out of me when he got the ball in the penalty area.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Liam Thistleton

    Liam, my dad was a ManU fan, yet, he took me to see Greavsie twice as a kid! Thanks for your comment. Bestie was also something else. ;)

  • Liam Thistleton

    In reply to: ashley collie

    RIP George Best:(

  • Barry

    Good read Ashley.
    Was lucky enough to be around for Jimmy's whole career at Spurs.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Barry

    Very lucky, Bazza, you can take that to the bank. And you saw his debut goal for Spurs, right? ;)

  • Sharon

    Brilliant! Even my pops loved him, and he was not a Spurs fan!

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Sharon

    Hahhaha, Sharon, he could convince anyone... ;)

  • Roger Maltz

    I’ve been a passionate supporter of Tottenham for almost 60 years. I have many heroes and fond memories of so many players. But the two players who I adored above all others were Jimmy Greaves, the mercurial little man who lit up our lives with his amazing talent. The other one is Dave Mackay, a born leader of men and the best all round midfielder and defender of my generation. Both these men rise above all others, and I’ve seen some wonderful players at our club including the Gilzeans, Perrymans and too many to name. Jimmy and Dave should both have been knighted eons ago. Dave is sadly no longer with us, but Jimmy despite his poor health is thankfully still around. Therefore it is not too late for the hierarchy in our society to hail him and decide to elevate him to Sir James Greaves, it’s long overdue. I also urge our Chairman, Daniel Levy, to erect a statue at our new stadium to recognise our greatest hero! ❤️ God bless Jimmy and Dave who have given us so much pleasure over the decades.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Roger Maltz

    ;)Wow, well said, Roger, and great stories. Good idea on the statue, come on, Daniel! Thanks for adding to the commentary!

  • Tom Dixon

    In reply to: Roger Maltz

    Well said Roger, I agree with you 100% . Tottenham Hotspur should not only recognise Dave Mackay and Jimmy Greaves but also the double winning team. Bill Nicholson said " Dave Mackay was his best ever signing. "
    Dave Mackay said "Jimmy Greaves was without doubt the most natural goalscorer he ever played with, he had tremendous balance, anticipation in the penalty area and finished clinically."
    Two of the greatest players ever, thanks for the memories.

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Tom Dixon

    You're welcome, Tom, are you a member of the Yid Army? Big game tomorrow vs RB—No Harry, no Sissoko, no Sonny, no worries, eh? ;)

  • Rolfe Jones

    Hi Ashley,

    Great article and thank you for sharing it. I was never able to see Jimmy Greaves play live, but from my formative years in the late 1960's and early 1970's heard much about him, primarily initially from my primary school teacher Andrew Silcox. He often talked about how great he was and the Spurs team of the 1960's were. He had Jimmy's autograph and had been offered at the time 25 pounds for it, which was a good some in the early 1970's. It was due to those stories about Jimmy Greaves and the the legendary lillywhites as a young boy that inspired me to be the lifelong Spurs fan I am today. Fast forward many years, I have watched many hours of footage on YouTube and other online places of how good Jimmy Greaves really was! His contribution to the Beautiful game is really beyond compare. Quite amazing. I truly believe he deserves a knighthood for his services to the game and hope it can come to him now while it is not too late!. TTID

  • ashley collie

    In reply to: Rolfe Jones

    Great story, Rolfe. My dad was a ManU fan, but my mum similarly alerted me to Greavsie, she loved those all white strips on Euro nights, and she loved that twinkle he had in his eyes when interviewed. She had to keep her appreciation for Spurs quiet but my dad must've dropped his cuppa when he heard me support Spurs. Then again, he did take me to meet him those two times, in Cardiff and Toronto. COYS. See you, soon, Rolfe, and thanks for commenting. ;)

Share this article

Ashley Jude Collie

Entertainment Expert

Ashley is an award-winning journalist/author/blogger who has written for Playboy, Toronto Star, Movie Entertainment, Sports Illustrated, Maclean's and others. He's interviewed various "leaders" in their fields, including: Oscar winners (Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lawrence, Alicia Vikander, Jane Fonda, Mira Sorvino, Geena Davis, Anthony Hopkins); Grammy winners (Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Ice Cube, Pete Townshend); MVPs in sports (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Wayne Gretzky, Kobe Bryant); and, business leaders (Amazon's Jeff Bezos). He has an upcoming novel, REJEX, coming out on Pulp Hero Press. And he has written several episodic TV shows, appeared on CNN, and blogged for Mademan, Medium, GritDaily and HuffPost.

   

Latest Articles

View all
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Companies
  • Environment
  • Global Economy
  • Finance
  • Politics
  • Society