Pele leads world tributes to Gordon Banks

Written by Chris Baxter
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Gordon Banks, the England international goalkeeper who was one of the key players of the famous 1966 FIFA World Cup winning team has sadly passed away at the age of 81.

Most people will remember banks for the fabulous save he made from Pele’s header when England lost 1-0 to Brazil in the 1970 World Cup.

 Football aficionados credit that superb save as one of the best of all time in world football. It was not just the fact that he managed to get from one side of his goal to another as the ball was crossed in from the right by-line. Having made the journey, he then had to deal with a brilliant header which was angled powerfully down and stuck the goal-line just inside the post.

Most goalkeepers would have been happy to have just got a hand to the ball, but Banks managed to somehow scoop it up and over the bar. It was a remarkable feat of skill and agility. Bobby Moore, England's captain at the time later said to him in jest, “You’re getting old Banksy - you used to hold on to them.”

As for Pele, after the match he clapped Banks on the back and said that he thought his header was a goal - the England goalkeeper replied, “you and me, both.” It was typical of this self-effacing man.

The save itself kindled a great, life-long friendship between the two. Pele recounted how it was not just the many terrific goals he scored that was usually the subject of conversations, but that one he missed too, thanks to the brilliance of Gordon Banks. The Brazilian was proud to lead world tributes in remembrance.

Among those remembering Banks was Neville Southgate, who as Chris Waddle said in a recent interview with Sportingbet, has really connected with England fans and the media after years of disbelief and criticism. Southgate spent time with Banks at the Football Writers’ tribute dinner where he congratulated him on this 80th birthday.

Banks started his professional football career in 1956 when Chesterfield signed him. In 1959 he was transferred to Leicester City for the princely sum of £7,000. It was during this spell at Leicester when he won the World Cup with England in 1966, before being sold on to Stoke City for £50,000.


.While still with Stoke, Gordon Banks was injured in a car crash in 1972. He lost the eyesight in one eye, and although he did fight his way back into playing the game he loved so dearly, it proved to be the eventual end of his illustrious career.

Born in Abbeydale, Sheffield, Banks was awarded the FWA Footballer of the year in 1972. He was also named goalkeeper of the year by FIFA on no less than six occasions.

The International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) deemed Gordon Banks to be the second-best goalkeeper of the 20th century - second to Lev Yashin; the Russian Goalkeeper nicknamed the Black Spider or the Black Panther. The Italian, Dino Zoff, was ranked third-best
Gordon Banks died after battling kidney cancer at the age of 81. He will be sorely missed by the world of football but will live on in its memory.

Read 3069 times Last modified on Monday, 15 July 2019 15:23
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Chris Baxter

Chris Baxter

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