DAVID PLEAT: The day Jimmy Greaves was at his impish best when his hat-trick beat my Exeter City

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DAVID PLEAT: The day Jimmy Greaves was at his impish best when his hat-trick beat my Exeter City

Think Maradona gliding through the England defence in Mexico — that was what Jimmy Greaves was like.

The most balanced runner in possession, with the ball tied to his magical left foot as he bypassed the opposition with swaying movement.

I have personal experience to call on. Exeter City of Division Four were drawn to play Spurs in the League Cup third round on September 25, 1968, after beating Sheffield Wednesday of the top division. The anticipation was intense. 

Fast. Fluent. Fantastic. Jimmy Greaves at his mercurial best scoring against Exeter City in 1968

Fast. Fluent. Fantastic. Jimmy Greaves at his mercurial best scoring against Exeter City in 1968

Exeter and Tottenham teams 

Tottenham: Jennings; Beal, Kinnear, Knowles, England, Mullery, Pearce, Venables, Gilzean, Greaves, Jones.

Scorers: Greaves 3, Pearce 2, Venables

Exeter: Shearing; Smythe, Blain, Kirkham, Harvey, Newman, Corr, Banks, Bullock, Mitten, Pleat.

Scorers: Banks, Mitten

I was the Grecians’ outside right, against the popular Cyril Knowles. The famous theatre of White Hart Lane had 25,798 watching that night, many of whom had travelled in hope and excitement from Devon. 

We started like a house on fire — underdogs thrilled to be playing against the gods of north London.

We were 1-0 up, then it was 1-1 and then we led 2-1 after the genial Pat Jennings fumbled a shot from Pleat. A shock on the cards maybe? No chance! Jimmy made sure of that. 

His first goal of three was incredible. He picked up the ball from Alan Gilzean and flowed downfield with his left foot whirring, past our player-manager John Newman at centre half.

In a flash, he had slalomed through our defence and placed the ball in the net. Fast, fluent and fantastic. We battled on, but Jimmy was too good and added a sheen to the scoreline with two more goals.

He was the most balanced runner in possession, with the ball tied to his magical left foot

He was the most balanced runner in possession, with the ball tied to his magical left foot

It finished 6-3 with Terry Venables getting one of the Spurs goals. But we were not too distraught to lose. We had witnessed Jimmy at his impish and devastating best.

Several seasons later, despite his problems, Jimmy was still in love with football when I saw him playing for Barnet. He loved the game and the game loved him. I firmly believe that we would still have won the 1966 World Cup had he been in the team.

Add your signature to give England hero Jimmy Greaves the gong he deserves.

Go to: www.change.org/givegreavsieagong 

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