Soccer

'If Jimmy Greaves was playing today he’d be up there with Messi' | John Giles

Ryan Clarke
Ryan Clarke

09:49 13 Feb 2020

When debating who is the greatest footballer ever, more often than not the argument concludes that we’ll never know because of players playing across different eras.

Speaking on Thursday Night Football, John Giles explained that he had a different way of thinking about the game and its greatest players.

“Great players in their day, would be great players today. And the great players today would’ve been great players back then too.

“It was a little bit more difficult because of the state of the pitches, and I have to mention that as an old player.”

“If Jimmy Greaves was playing today he’d be up there with Messi,” said Giles.

Greaves scored 44 goals in 57 appearances for England, a staggering 1.3 goals per game. He is also fourth in the all-time list of England goalscorers behind just Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker and Wayne Rooney and scored six hat tricks - an English record.

Giles explained that it wasn’t any easier to score goals back in that era of football, especially when the state of the pitches are considered.

“It wasn’t any easier to score goals back then. It was a little bit more difficult because of the state of the pitches, and I have to mention that as an old player.

“Some of the mud heaps [that we played on] and being fantastic players on those pitches, I can just imagine what they’d be like on today’s pitches,” the Leeds and Ireland legend said.

But he does think that Jimmy Greaves was quite unlucky during the 1966 World Cup that England won on home soil.

“I think he was very, very unlucky at that particular time obviously to get an injury but England didn’t play well in the first three matches.

“Jimmy was the type of lad that needed a supply, he wasn’t a grafter and he didn’t get out chasing people around.

“But after the World Cup, he immediately got into the team again and he was just unlucky that the three games he missed that were the World Cup quarter-final, semi-final and final.

“He was by far and away their best striker over the years and he was terribly unlucky not to play in the World Cup-winning team,” Giles said.

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1966 England Football Jimmy Greaves John Giles Soccer Spurs Three Lions Tottenham Hotspur World Cup

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