Sporting memories – Jimmy Greaves breaks the British transfer record

Greavsie’s goals record made him a snip at £99,999!

This summer, Tottenham Hotspur collected a world record transfer fee when they sold Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for a whopping £85.3 million, writes Adam Lanigan.

But back in 1961, it was Spurs who were breaking the bank themselves. They paid out a record fee of £100,000 to bring striker Jimmy Greaves back from Italy.

Well, not exactly. Manager Bill Nicholson didn’t want Greaves to be saddled with the pressure of the first £100,000 player, so he insisted they paid AC Milan £99,999 instead!

Over his nine years at White Hart Lane, Greaves smashed 266 goals in 379 matches, making him the club’s record goalscorer.

With him in the team, Spurs won two FA Cups and the European Cup-Winners’ Cup, although the First Division title proved elusive.

Quite simply, the Londoner is probably the finest goalscorer England has ever produced. Left foot, right foot, it didn’t bother Jimmy. The usual outcome was the ball nestling in the net.

That was evident from the time he scored 114 goals in a single season in Chelsea’s youth team.

And he kept up that phenomenal form when he moved into the first team. Handed his debut at 17, he scored against Spurs in his first-ever game.

In 1959 and 1961, he was top scorer in the First Division. No one has equalled his 41 league goals in a season in the 52 years that have followed.

Greaves went on to be top marksman four more times during his spell at Tottenham, while he was also prolific for England.

Only Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker have scored more than Greaves’ 44, but they won substantially more than his 57 caps.

The biggest controversy of Sir Alf Ramsey’s World Cup-winning side of 1966 was the omission of Greaves.

He was injured in the first game against France and never got back into the side.

His replacement, Sir Geoff Hurst, scored the hat-trick against West Germany in the final, but few could argue that Hurst was a better player than Greaves.