The night that Jimmy Greaves PRANKED Sportsmail's Ian Wooldridge!

‘He kindly summoned a taxi and took me to my hotel, still laughing’: The night in Milan that Greavsie PRANKED our legendary writer Ian Wooldridge!

  • Sportmail’s legendary writer, Ian Wooldridge, recalls being pranked by Greavsie 
  • Wooldridge’s article first appeared in Sportsmail on February 21, 2001
  • If you would like to sign Sportsmail’s petition to ‘get Greaves a gong’, click here

This piece from our legendary writer Ian Wooldridge, who followed Jimmy Greaves’s career closely, first appeared in Sportsmail on February 21, 2001…

Among the many blessings Jimmy Greaves was counting yesterday on his 61st birthday were nine grandchildren and his own good health.

‘Funny really,’ said the incomparable little maestro of Chelsea, Tottenham and England. 

‘I am still managing to get round 18 holes of golf while all the hard men who tried to kick the s*** out of me are either limping or hobbling around on crutches.’

Jimmy Greaves’ (R) career was followed closely by iconic writer, Ian Wooldridge (not pictured)

Always had a sharp sense of irony, our Jim. He laughed himself silly one night during his brief spell with AC Milan when, after a grappa or three too many, I challenged him to a footrace along a dimly lit arcade. 

Generous as always, Jim let me win. This was unfortunate. I had failed to notice a chain stretched across the arcade’s exit. This struck me amidships and I finished knocked out on the pavement on the other side.

Mr Greaves kindly summoned a taxi and took me to my hotel, still laughing. The joy of reminiscing with him yesterday was that at one stage of his colourful life there were doubts he would ever see 40, let alone 61. 

Sportsmail’s Wooldridge recalled how Greaves pranked him during his AC Milan days

The drink, vast daily intakes of vodka and Guinness, had got to him so badly that his family life erupted and he even took to sleeping rough.

His conquest of the affliction is the greatest triumph of his life. Like all recovered alcoholics he can pinpoint precisely the date of his last drink: February 28, 1978.

There followed a career in television, he still writes for newspapers and does some public relations work with the Football Association.

He was in buoyant form yesterday on the umpteenth day of his second life.

If you would like to support Sportsmail’s campaign to ‘get Jimmy Greaves a gong’, please click here.

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