Soccer-Former England striker Greaves dies aged 81

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Jimmy Greaves at the Royal Mail Football Heroes Stamp Collection Launch - Wembley Stadium - May 8, 2013 Former footballer Jimmy Greaves during the launch Action Images via Reuters/Tony O'Brien/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) -Jimmy Greaves, one of England's most prolific strikers and Tottenham Hotspur's record goalscorer, has died at the age of 81, the Premier League club said on Sunday.

Greaves, who suffered a stroke six years ago, scored 266 goals for Tottenham between 1961-1970 and his 37 league goals in the 1962-63 season remains a club record.

He began his career with Chelsea and netted 124 league goals for the London club between 1957 and 1961.

Greaves scored 44 goals in 57 internationals for England, making him the country's fourth-highest scorer behind Wayne Rooney, Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker.

He played in England's three group games at the 1966 World Cup before getting injured. He was replaced in the team by Geoff Hurst who famously scored a hat-trick in the 4-2 final win over West Germany at Wembley.

Greaves missed out on a winner's medal because they were only awarded to the 11 players who played in the final, although he belatedly received one in 2009.

"One of the truly great goal scorers, terrific guy with an absolutely brilliant sense of humour, the best. It has been a difficult time for him, he can now rest in peace," Hurst said.

Tottenham said in a statement that Greaves, who also played for West Ham United and had a short spell with Italian club AC Milan, died at his home in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Greaves, who combined pace with dribbling skills and lethal finishing, scored for Tottenham in the 1962 FA Cup final as they retained the trophy and he netted twice in the European Cup Winners' Cup final victory in 1963.

He won another FA Cup with Spurs in 1967.

Greaves's record of 357 goals in the English top flight remains unsurpassed fifty years since he retired as a professional in 1971.

He struggled with alcoholism before becoming a television presenter on the popular "Saint and Greavsie" programme, a Saturday lunchtime football show with former Liverpool and Scotland striker Ian St John, who died aged 82 in March after a long illness.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane said on Twitter that Greaves was a "true legend" while the north London club said "football will not see his like again".

England manager Gareth Southgate said the national team would pay tribute to Greaves in next month's World Cup qualifier against Hungary at Wembley.

"Jimmy Greaves was someone who was admired by all who love football, regardless of club allegiances," Southgate said in a statement released by the Football Association.

"I was privileged to be able to meet Jimmy's family last year at Tottenham Hotspur as the club marked his 80th birthday. My thoughts are with them and I know the entire game will mourn his passing."

Tottenham were due to face Chelsea later on Sunday in the Premier League where a minute's silence will be observed.

"Everybody loves a goalscorer, and no one merited that love more than Greaves," Chelsea's said on their website.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman in London and Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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