Family friends and former team-mates paid a fond farewell to football great Jimmy Greaves at his funeral today.
Greaves, who died last month aged 81, was celebrated in an intimate, modest, affectionate and amusing service – in keeping with a man deeply cherished as a footballer, broadcaster, comedian, journalist and raconteur.
Widow Irene, who married Jimmy when the couple were teenagers in 1958, and their four children – daughters Lynn and Mitzi and sons Danny and Andy – were among the mourners at Chelmsford Crematorium in Essex along with most of his 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Another son, Jimmy junior, died before his first birthday in 1960.
Former team-mates including Harry Redknapp, Pat Jennings, Cliff Jones and Steve Perryman, attended along with Tottenham greats such as Ossie Ardiles, Clive Allen, Micky Hazard and Graham Roberts.
Spurs, whose all-time goalscoring record of 268 is held by Greaves, sent a floral club crest with the words: “We have lost a dear member of our Spurs family. The greatest goalscorer the world has ever seen. Always in our thoughts. With love from everybody at Tottenham Hotspur.”
Greaves remains the greatest goalscorer in English top-flight history, with 357 goals – despite retiring from the professional game at the age of 31 – and was the leading scorer in the old First Division in six different seasons.
Greaves scored 44 times in 57 internationals but missed the 1966 World Cup Final, after suffering a gashed shin against France in the group stage and losing his place to Geoff Hurst.
In nine years at Tottenham between 1961 and 1970, Greaves won two FA Cups and a European Cup-Winners’ Cup, part of the first British team to lift a European trophy.
He had scored 132 goals in 169 games as a prodigious youngster at Chelsea before a brief, unhappy spell at AC Milan.
Yet, while Greaves was described as “Messi with bells on” by Nigel Catchpole, who conducted the service, few of those footballing statistics were mentioned at a funeral attended by around 200 family and friends.
Eulogies from Greaves’ youngest son Andy, as well as his friends, Brian Doherty and the journalist Norman Giller, concentrated largely on his qualities as a family man and a warm, funny and generous friend.
For a quarter of a century, Greaves became a much-loved broadcaster on ITV – most notably teaming up with former Liverpool striker Ian St John in Saturday lunchtime football show Saint and Greavsie – and also a regular on breakfast show TV:AM.
His former boss, and ITV presenter, Gary Newbon was also among the mourners.
And Giller, who co-wrote books with Greaves, spoke of how his friend had been more proud of his career as a broadcaster – a profession in which he ‘had to start from scratch’ rather than his time as a footballer, where his talents came so naturally.
Greaves, who died on September 19, suffered a severe stroke in 2015 which seriously impaired his speech and movement.
And Greaves, who was a recovered alcoholic who had been teetotal since 1978, had insisted that his funeral service ended with the Lonnie Donegan song ‘Have A Drink On Me’ – an offer which would be warmly accepted by most of the guests at his wake.
Son Andy recalled: “We would have golfing weekends, where Dad would regularly win the trophy – much to Mum’s horror, as she hated that trophy – and he would always be the first at the bar to buy a round of several beers and one Coca-Cola for himself.”