Watch: Former England striker Jimmy Greaves dies
Briefly, rivalries were put to one side. The fans of Tottenham and Chelsea were united for once, brought together by the memory of Jimmy Greaves MBE, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 81.
It was an emotional occasion at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium; a day to remember footballing royalty. Greaves was one of the greatest forwards the game has seen and he was a prolific scorer for both Chelsea and Spurs, collecting 132 goals for the former and 266 for the latter, not to mention 44 in 57 appearances for England.
A pure finisher who was regarded as being ahead of his time, Greaves was a widely loved figure. That much was clear when his image appeared on the big screens in the moments before kick-off for Chelsea’s dominant 3-0 win. Former Spurs legends were invited to stand by the side of the pitch – Glenn Hoddle, Ossie Ardíles, Gary Mabbutt, Micky Hazard, Ledley King, Steve Perryman, Michael Dawson, Graham Roberts and Martin Chivers reminding the home fans of better times – and the minute’s applause was magnificently observed by a crowd of 60,059.
Some supporters might have been old enough to see Greaves play in the flesh; others have had to dip into the YouTube archives to find out how good he was. Either way, the respect was huge. Greaves was a superb forward, a member of the England squad that won the World Cup in 1966, and his legend still endures.
He remains Spurs’ record goalscorer. Harry Kane is second with 223 goals. “It’s frightening, really, how good a player he was, the goal ratios that he returned, the goals he scored,” the England captain said. “For someone like me to look at those numbers and try to achieve those numbers and hopefully one day go on to break those numbers would be incredible.”
Kane could not add to his tally here. The first half was goalless and there were more tributes at half-time. They were led by Paul Coyte, a broadcaster for TalkSport and a well known face at Spurs, and featured interviews with former players.
However the nostalgia was not enough to power Spurs to victory over their fierce London rivals. Chelsea, Greaves’s first club, ruled through goals from Thiago Silva, N’Golo Kanté and Antonio Rüdiger. Greaves, who also played for Milan and West Ham, surely would have approved of their slick attacking.
Watch: Jimmy Greaves in numbers