Jimmy Greaves' wife claims husband's MBE is just an 'afterthought'

‘It’s too little, too late’: Jimmy Greaves finally gets his gong after Sportsmail’s campaign to recognise the former England forward but his wife says the MBE is just an ‘afterthought’ following her husband’s stroke

  • Ex-footballer Jimmy Greaves will receive a gong in the New Year’s Honours list 
  • Sportsmail ran a campaign to get the ex-Chelsea and Spurs star honoured 
  • Greaves’ wife claims it is ‘too little, too late’ to recognise her husband with a MBE
  • Irene Greaves says the gong is an ‘afterthought’ after her husband had a stroke

Jimmy Greaves will finally receive an MBE for his services to football, but his wife Irene believes it is too little, too late.

Greaves is included in the New Year’s Honours revealed on Wednesday after Sportsmail campaigned for his achievements, inexplicably overlooked for so many years, to be recognised with a gong.

‘It is a small degree of recognition for him,’ said Irene. ‘But my reaction is that it’s 20 years too late and it’s not a very good honour. I think he’s worth more than that. 

The wife of Jimmy Greaves (above) claims it is ‘too little, too late’ to give her husband a MBE 

Irene Greaves (R) claims the recent decision to give her husband (L) a MBE is ‘an afterthought’

‘He still holds all those records and he’s done so many things in his life. Now he’s 80, he’s had a stroke and they do something about it. 

‘To me, it feels like they have the attitude that they’ve got to give him something so let’s give him that, because it will stop people going on about it. So I’m not too happy about it, but that’s how I feel.’

Greaves scored 357 goals in the top-flight of English football for Chelsea, Tottenham and West Ham, which stands as a record almost 50 years after his final game. 

He scored 44 goals in 57 games for England and was part of the World Cup-winning squad in 1966, although injury denied him a place in the final.

Greaves (above) scored 357 goals for Chelsea, Spurs and West Ham and 44 in 57 internationals

After retirement, Greaves beat alcoholism and built a successful career as a popular TV presenter, which included the hit Saint & Greavsie show hosted with former Liverpool and Scotland striker Ian St John. 

Greaves has long been cherished as a national treasure yet remained overlooked by the honours system until Sportsmail took up his case this year.

‘Personally, I think it is a tremendous honour,’ said his son Danny. ‘If you’d told Dad when he was a teenager starting his football career that one day he would be honoured by the Queen, he would have probably replied with something witty and off-the-cuff.

‘But I am a very proud son and we are a very proud family. We’ve always been very proud of him.

Danny Greaves (right), revealed his pride in his father’s award  after Sportsmail’s campaign

‘A lot of people I know probably would agree with Mum that it’s come too late and not quite what they were hoping for. 

‘I’ve met many Spurs fans over the years and spoken to friends and former team-mates who would have loved him to be Sir Jimmy Greaves. I would agree, of course. 

‘As his son, that would be great because you always want the best for your family. I still think it’s fantastic. I’m absolutely delighted he’s to be honoured even at this late stage in his life. It doesn’t come much bigger than being honoured by the Queen.’

Greaves has been in poor health since a stroke in 2015. His speech is limited and he requires care four times a day, but Irene and children Lynn, Danny, Mitzi and Andrew, are determined to try to get him to an investiture next year.

‘Dad is a big supporter of the royal family,’ said Danny. ‘As a family, we would like to get him there to collect the honour. He has been fortunate to visit Buckingham Palace and meet the Queen, and he would like to meet Prince William, who I know is an Aston Villa supporter and a big football fan. He would be very happy and proud.’

Greaves (right) has been in poor health since a recent stroke and requires care four times a day

The family were keen to extend their gratitude to friends, former team-mates and colleagues who supported Sportsmail’s campaign to see him honoured. 

Sir Geoff Hurst led the campaign with support from many others, including ex-Spurs stars Cliff Jones and Steve Perryman and former TV presenter Gary Newbon, former journalist Norman Giller and Greaves’ long-time agent Terry Baker.

‘Thank you to them,’ said Danny. ‘This should be dedicated to all those who have supported Dad through his life and his career and helped him to be a success. In particular to supporters who have been touched by his work over the years, whether as a player, on TV with Saint & Greavsie or by reading his columns in newspapers. 

‘I’d like to thank them for the warmth, love and kindness they have shown, and for holding him dear to their hearts.’

To celebrate Greaves’ MBE, BT Sport plan to broadcast Greavsie, the documentary film of his life, on New Year’s Day at 8pm.




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