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Top 20 England players of all time - #8

Sports Mole's countdown of the top 20 England players of all time continues with number eight - Jimmy Greaves.

Jimmy Greaves (57 caps, 44 goals)

Jimmy Greaves of Tottenham Hotspur in action during a league match.© Getty Images

The inescapable truth of Jimmy Greaves's England career is that his crowning glory was snatched away from him by injury during the 1966 World Cup.

Whether or not England would have gone all the way to lift the Jules Rimet trophy on home soil with Greaves leading the line ahead of Geoff Hurst, who scored the only goal of the game in the quarter-final and a hat-trick in the final, is something we will never know, but Greaves was undoubtedly his country's pre-eminent striker at the time.

A nasty cut to his leg in the group stages kept Greaves out of the quarters and semi-finals and, despite being fit to play in the final against West Germany, manager Alf Ramsey opted to keep faith with Hurst - a decision which was more than vindicated.

However, it would be a disservice to define Greaves's career by what could have been as the striker was one of the greatest goalscorers world football has ever seen.

The clinical front man scored three hat-tricks in his first two years as a full England international and went on to score six throughout his Three Lions career - a record for the team.

Greaves played just three more times for England following his 1966 disappointment, but he retired as his country's all-time leading goalscorer and his tally of 44 in just 57 games is still enough to put him fourth on the list.

At club level, Greaves established himself with 132 goals in 169 appearances for Chelsea before joining Bill Nicholson's Tottenham Hotspur, where he won two FA Cup crowns and the Cup Winners' Cup - in addition to the Serie A title during a brief spell with AC Milan.

A hat-trick on his Tottenham debut gave a sign of things to come during the heyday of his career and he went on to score 422 goals in 602 appearances - including a record 357 goals in England's top flight.

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