Jimmy Greaves was a prolific goalscorer throughout his career. He scored a fantastic number of goals for Chelsea's youth teams and made his League debut for Chelsea at White Hart Lane in August, 1957 at the age of seventeen. As with every debut throughout his career, he scored in that game and earned Chelsea a point in a 1-1 draw.
He went on to score 124 League goals for Chelsea before his transfer to AC Milan in June, 1961. However, his spell in Italy was not a happy time for Greaves who failed to settle and found it difficult to adapt to the strict Italian training regime. However, despite his difficulties he continued to score regularly for his team in the defensive minded Italian League, including his customary debut goal. In total he managed 9 goals from 14 appearances.
Some time after his departure to Italy, Bill Nicholson became aware of Greaves being unsettled at AC Milan and of his desire to returm to English football. Nicholson watched the situation, determined to sign Greaves and add the natural goal scoring skills to his already talented team which had won the 'Double' the previous season and who were now involved in a campaign in the European Cup. After protracted negotiations, Greaves signed for Spurs for £99,999 as Nicholson did not want him to have the added pressure of being the first £100,000 player.
Jimmy Greaves made his debut for Spurs at Tottenham against Blackpool in November, 1961 and scored a hat-trick, including an overhead kick to set his Spurs' goal scoring record on track. In that first season he scored 21 League goals from 22 appearances and 9 FA Cup goals as Spurs retained the trophy, including the first goal, after three minutes, in the Final against Burnley.
The following season he set a new club record of 37 League goals and scored twice in the European Cup Winners' Cup Final against Atletico Madrid as Spurs became the first British team to win a European trophy.
Greaves had made his England debut in 1959 and was a regular member of the team but his greatest disappointment came in 1966 when he missed out on playing in the World Cup Final. He had missed part of the previous season through illness but recovered in time to claim his place in the England squad for the World Cup. He was selected for the opening three group games but failed to score and was injured in the third game. Geoff Hurst replaced him and scored the only goal of the next game and although Greaves recovered from the injury he was unable to regain a place in the team.
Over the next few seasons he continued to score regularly for Spurs but in 1969-70 as Bill Nicholson rebuilt his team he dropped Greaves and a number of senior players after an FA Cup defeat at Crystal Palace. Although the other players regained their places and went on to be part of Spurs successful team at the start of the 1970s, Greaves never again played for Spurs.
In March, 1970 he was transferred to West Ham as part of the deal which brought Martin Peters to Tottenham.
Jimmy Greaves' last appearance for Spurs was in the FA Cup replay at Crystal Palace on 28th January, 1970. His last League appearance was on 17th January, a 1-2 defeat at Sunderland. His last goal was scored the previous weekend at White Hart Lane as Spurs defeated Derby County 2-1. No-one present at White Hart Lane that Saturday would have realised that they were witnessing the end of an era - the final goal scored by Jimmy Greaves for Tottenham Hotspur.
Greaves scored twice on his West Ham debut and despite scoring for West Ham on his return to Spurs on the opening day of the following season, he retired at the age of 31 in May, 1971.
Greaves was a natural goal scorer who remained calm when presented with a goal scoring opportunity and while he may have been criticised for a lack of work rate, it only took one touch from him in front of goal to score the winning goal. Spurs have never seen a goal scorer like him, he was pure class.