England’s Jimmy Greaves spent his final day watching cricket on TV, says son

Football fans applauded the legendary Jimmy Greaves, who became one of the game’s favourite faces.

Former clubs Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur hailed him to him with a minute’s applause at their Premier League game.

And England announced plans to honour the striker, who scored 44 goals in 57 games, at their next match.

Jimmy, who died today aged 81, had been seriously ill for several years since suffering a massive stroke in 2015.

He spent his last day watching cricket surrounded by his wife, Irene, and their four children.

His son Danny said: “He was a big cricket fan and he watched the T20 Blast finals.

“We had the family – me, my brother, two sisters and mum – with him all the time, and thankfully he went very peacefully in his sleep and without any pain.



Jimmy in 1961
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Popperfoto via Getty Images)




“There’s a lot of sadness, of course, but the last six-and-a-bit years since Dad had his stroke have been tough.

“So on what’s a very sad and upsetting day, you also know the pain and emotion of seeing him suffer and battle with it all the time has gone.

“With all of us, there’s that relief that Dad is comfortable now and wherever he is, he’s happy.”



Jimmy while moving his family from Hornchurch in 1961
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Daily Herald)




Greaves suffered his share of heartache, cruelly missing the 1966 World Cup final after getting injured and heartbreakingly losing his four-month-old son Jimmy Jr.

He also battled alcoholism, which he said was “killing him” and cost him his marriage.

But he recovered to become part of footy’s favourite TV double act in the Saint & Greavsie alongside pal Ian St John, won his beloved Irene back and they remarried in 2017.



Tributes poured in for the former Tottenham Hotspur and England star
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Daily Mirror)




James Peter Greaves was born in Manor Park, East London, on February 20, 1940, the son of a Tube driver.

He was the greatest goalscorer of his generation, scoring 447 goals for clubs including an unrivalled 220 for Tottenham Hotspur and 132 for Chelsea.

Jimmy made a goalscoring debut for Chelsea against Spurs in 1957.



Jimmy was the greatest goalscorer of his generation
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Jimmy removing a stray dog from the pitch in 1962
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He married the great love of his life Irene Barden at Romford register office in March 1958.

Despite brilliant early success with Chelsea, he was badly affected by baby Jimmy’s sudden death in 1961.

And he was haunted after Geoff Hurst was controversially preferred to him for England’s World Cup winning match against West Germany.




Jimmy and Irene after the birth of their son Danny
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Jimmy relaxing in his hotel during the 1966 World Cup
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He played his final game for England in May 1967 and remains the country’s fourth all-time record scorer, behind Gary Lineker, Sir Bobby Charlton and Wayne Rooney.

He recalled: “As parents, you expect your children to outlive you and when that doesn’t happen, you become an empty shell. Jimmy was a beautiful boy and his time on this earth was all too brief.







“It kind of puts losing my World Cup winner’s medal to Geoff into perspective, doesn’t it But you don’t go through life without having some really bad times, and I’ve had some great times, too.



Tributes have flooded in
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“Jimmy’s death devastated us, it nearly drove us out of our minds. We were inconsolable.

“You grieve for the death of any loved one but when it is for your own child no words can describe that grief.”

Irene has said: “He was five months old and there was no rhyme or reason about it. It just happened.

“He’d been a healthy baby, 9lbs at birth, and when he died we didn’t speak about it – you were told to go home and get on with your lives. There was no counselling.



Jimmy is credited with encouraging thousands of people to tackle alcohol abuse
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“I’ve still got a lovely picture of him hanging on my wall with all the other family photos.”

Jimmy is credited with encouraging thousands of people to tackle their own alcohol abuse. He battled the killer disease for decades.

In 2003 he recalled: “I lost the 70s completely. They passed me by. I was drunk from 1972 to 1977. I woke up one morning and realised that it was a different world. I’d been living in it, but I hadn’t been aware of it.”




Jimmy with Norman Wisdom in 1966
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Jimmy suffered from a stroke in 2015
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In 1978 our sister paper the Sunday People ran an interview with him under the headline: “Drink is killing me”.

In it he said: “I have to face up to the truth. If I carry on drinking I will kill myself.

“I probably go through half a bottle of vodka before the pubs open in the morning. And when the pubs open, I hit them.

“I drink beer in the pubs, not spirits. Then I carry on with vodka after they close.

“I’d say I drink a minimum of a ­bottle or a bottle and a half of vodka and about 12 pints of beer a day.

“I am a very sick man. I am a social drinker who went off the rails, without realising it.”



Jimmy in 1961
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Popperfoto via Getty Images)




He and Irene separated and divorced during his fight with alcoholism but reunited after 18 months.

They re-married at St John the Baptist church in Danbury, Essex on 7th September 2017.

In a recent interview Irene said: “We’ve always adored each other, without a doubt.”



Jimmy, left, as an aspiring footie player
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Jimmy was pals with some of the greatest players of all time including Bobby Moore and George Best.

He said of Best: “He was the first true modern footballer – the one every mediocre millionaire of the modern game should get down on their knees and thank.

“George was the ultimate showman. His attitude was ‘why simply beat a defender when you can torture him and entertain your public too?’”

Jimmy’s health had started to deteriorate in 2012 when he suffered a mild stroke in February of that year whilst having surgery on an artery in his neck.



Jimmy on ITV Football Classic in 1987
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Irene spoke of her torment dealing with his illness.

She said: “I never wanted anyone else. But I look at him now and think he’s not the man he was. I’ve lost my best mate.

“There was no one like him.”

Irene said that during the pandemic, carers came to their home four times a day to look after his basic needs.



Jimmy and Irene remarried in Danbury, Essex in 2017
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Collect Unknown)




She said: “They were fabulous. During lockdown they did the shopping, went to the chemists, doctors, everything.”

He leaves behind Irene, four children Lynn, Mitzi, Danny and Andrew along with 10 grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Irene said simply: “People love Jim. He’s a thoroughly nice man and he’s been incredibly generous.

“It has been an unconventional life but an amazing one, really.”

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