From Pete :
I don’t think you can say often enough just how good the Jimmy Greaves record is.
44 goals in only 57 games for England,will always remain amazing.
Couple that with the fact that the tackling was much harder, and conditions and equipment nowhere near as good as they are today.
You then look at his phenomenal club record of almost a goal a game, which was at a time when tackling was tackling, with little protection for forwards and players went by names such as “chopper Harris”, who did indeed chop down opposition players at every opportunity.
In fact when a well known Scots hard man by the name of Jimmy Scoular made a particularly bad tackle, only to be told by the ref “You were late there, Jimmy,” his reply was, “Sorry ref, I got there as soon as I could.”
In short the goals scored by Rooney both at club level and for England have been in very sanitised conditions, you might even say easy, and stand no comparison with the great scorers of the past.
I don’t compare eras, so I was never interested in a computer simulation of Joe Louis against Mike Tyson.
And I wasn’t living in London during Jimmy’s Chelsea prime.
There was no Sixties player like him. He was electric but nothing like Denis Law or Eusebio.
Greaves was Robbie Fowler with Michael Owen’s pace… but better than both.
At Chelsea he was a wonderboy, as Rooney was at Everton, and he blossomed into the kind of goalscoring genius nobody had ever seen.
At Spurs, he played in Bill Nicholson’s great team with Dave Mackay. But he worried about not being able to score the goals that everyone expected, and that was why he drank. Anxiety turned Jimmy into an alcoholic.
Years ago, when Miles Kington used to send me pop culture books to review for Punch magazine, I did one about Greavesie and from that I remember what Jimmy said when he was asked what he was thinking about when he was dancing through one-on-one against the goalkeeper.
He said, ”I’m thinking about Dave Mackay shaking my hand.”
The feeling of fraternity in that remark became a reference point for me.
Years later in the 80s when I did a summer interview with George Graham in his temporary office just off the marble hall, George told me that Dave Mackay was the best footballer he’d even seen.
Great players need to play with other great players to win major trophies.