Jimmy Greaves was having a renaissance of a season with Tottenham having opted out of being called up for England squads. As the goals returned the clamour increased in the media for Greaves to receive a recall to the England team.
16th November, 1968
Tottenham Hotspur 5 Sunderland 1
Scorers: Greaves (4), England
In season 1968-69 Jimmy Greaves rediscovered his goal scoring touch and people were starting to call for his return to the England team with the media leading the campaign.
Jimmy had already scored three hat-tricks in the first three months of the season against Burnley and Leicester City in the League and against Exeter City in the League Cup. This gave him a goal tally for the season, to date, of 19.
However, against Sunderland he went one better and scored four with Mike England scoring the other goal.
Although Jimmy maintained his goalscoring record Sir Alf Ramsay didn’t recall him to the England team. In the build-up to the 1966 World Cup Greaves had been a regular in the England starting line-up. He had scored 4 as England defeated Norway 6 – 1 in Oslo in a warm-up match a month before the World Cup started. He played in the opening three group matches but with put getting a goal. He was injured in the final match against France and missed the quarter-final match against Argentina. He was fit by the time England reached the Final but Alf Ramsey decided to go with the team which had taken England into the Final. He selected Geoff Hurst instead of Greaves and the rest is history.
In the season following the win, Greaves made only three more appearances for England, scoring once against Spain at Wembley. He was called up regularly for the squad but not selected and Greaves explained to the manager that he would prefer to miss the squad sessions if he wasn’t going to be selected for the team. In season 1968-69 as his goalscoring form returned and the calls for his inclusion in the England increased.
A quote from Sir Alf Ramsey is recorded in Matt Allen’s book, Greaves. The England manager said,
I am being crucified because I am not selecting Greaves, yet he told me he does not want to play for England.
Greaves denies that he turned his back on England and that he always wanted to play for his country
but the manager stubbornly refused to select Greaves and so he ended his international career with 44 goals from 57 internationals.
- Sample some of Jimmy Greaves’ 466 goals from a magnificent career with Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham United and England.
Jimmy Greaves- English Football’s Greatest Goalscorer.