The story of how one of the best strikers of all time used grassroots football to kickstart his sober journey.

Jimmy Greaves. Wow, what a player. Just say that name to your grandparents and there’s a pretty high likelihood they’ll give off a little bright smile.

He is the highest goal scorer in English top-flight history with 357 goals and was awarded third place in the 1963 Ballon D’or rankings. Not bad ay?

Jimmy Greaves made his name in lilywhite while playing at White Hart Lane for Tottenham Hotspur, with only Harry Kane boasting more goals in the clubs history.

However, despite his successful career in football, Greaves ventured into a world of unhealthy lifestyles.

The striker took a particular liking to alcohol which lead to him putting on a substantial amount of weight in latter years at West Ham.

Sadly, this developed into an addiction for Greaves and he admitted to routinely drinking 20 pints during the day and a bottle of vodka in the evenings. He also confessed to drink driving in this period while also losing his marriage due to drinking issues.

Greaves spent periods of his addiction sleeping rough and started selling women’s jumpers after declaring bankrupt.

He said: “I lost the 70’s to booze, it passed me by. I was drunk from 1972 to 1977.”

In an attempt to get his life back on track, the talisman joined his local side Brentwood who were in the Essex Senior League.

Greaves accepted he no longer had the fitness to play high-level football anymore but still wanted to be involved in the beautiful game.

Following a successful season at Brentwood, Greaves moved to Chelmsford City where he scored 20 goals in 38 games. In particular, he took a liking to the Anglo-Italian tournament the club competed in, a competition he described as the “highlight” of his tenure at Chelmsford.

It was at his time at Chelmsford where he sought help from recovery programme Alcoholics Anonymous, and this is where his recovery really started.

Greaves moved to Barnet in August 1977 and was awarded their player of the season. However, he left the Bees to concentrate on business interests but more importantly to focus on his escape from alcohol.

He began to make promises to his former wife Irene that he would stay sober and the couple rekindled.

His wife acknowledged Greaves’ recovery and knew deep down that he was being truthful with his promises.

Greaves said: “Irene said she didn’t divorce me, she divorced the stranger I had become.”

Given this, the goalscorer stayed sober until his death in 2021.

Greaves was hit with several strokes during his later life, with the most impactful coming in 2015 where he was told he would never be able to walk again.

Queen Elizabeth II personally acknowledged his influence on the footballing world and awarded him with an MBE along with fellow World Cup winner, Ron Flowers.

In an age where alcoholism was rife, Greaves sought an escape through the power of non-league football. He was still able to play the sport he loved while slowly recovering from a journey which would improve his life forever.