Former England Goalkeeper and World Cup Winner Gordon Banks Dies at Age 81

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 18:  Gordon Banks attends a photocall for 'Bo66y' at Wembley Stadium on May 18, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Former England goalkeeper and 1966 FIFA World Cup winner Gordon Banks has died aged 81.

The news came via his former club Stoke City on Tuesday:

Stoke City FC @stokecity

From the family of Gordon Banks It is with great sadness that we announce that Gordon passed away peacefully overnight. We are devastated to lose him but we have so many happy memories and could not have been more proud of him. https://t.co/mg5GIgSoBb

Banks is regarded as one of the Three Lions' all-time great players, turning out 73 times in total for the national team and was in goal for the World Cup final victory over West Germany in 1966, which England won 4-2 after extra time at Wembley.

Banks was also part of the side that went to Mexico in 1970, a tournament at which he made what many regard as the greatest save of all time from Brazil striker Pele.

Here's the incredible stop: 

FIFA World Cup @FIFAWorldCup

Once a champion, always a champion 🦁🏆 We are deeply sorry to hear of the death of @England World Cup winner @thegordonbanks. He was one of the game's greatest goalkeepers, a provider of stunning World Cup memories & a gentleman. Our thoughts are with his family & friends. https://t.co/tsD4c71Ixt

Former England striker Gary Lineker and current Three Lions forward Raheem Sterling paid their respects on social media:

Gary Lineker @GaryLineker

Oh no. Gordon Banks, an absolute hero of mine, and countless others, has died. @England’s World Cup winner was one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, and such a lovely, lovely man. #RIPGordon

Raheem Sterling @sterling7

of course there was THAT save, but its so much more we are mourning today. RIP Gordon Banks. @England legend, your legacy will live on. All my thoughts with the family https://t.co/iyAKdH2Mfm

In total, Banks was named as the FIFA goalkeeper of the year on six occasions in a row between 1966 and 1971.

The goalkeeper's club career started at Chesterfield before he went on to cement his place as England's best shot-stopper at Leicester City, who he joined in 1959. In an eight-year stint with the Foxes, he was twice an FA Cup runner-up and a one-time League Cup winner.

In 1967, he moved to Stoke and remained with the Potters until he retired from football in 1973 following an eye injury suffered in a car crash. Banks helped the team win the League Cup in his final campaign in a  triumph that remains Stoke's only major trophy.

After his initial retirement, Banks went on to play in America for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and also played once on loan for St Patrick's Athletic in the Republic of Ireland.

Phil McNulty of BBC Sport put into context the impact Banks had on English football and goalkeeping as a whole: 

Phil McNulty @philmcnulty

Sad news...a man whose name will be forever in England's football history. Not just as a member of the 1966 World Cup-winning team but as the goalkeeper who made the save from Pele against Brazil in Guadalajara four years later by which all great saves are still measured. https://t.co/NJwXk0xxZs

Despite his success with England in 1966, Banks' save from Pele in 1970 represents the most iconic moment of his career.

Per McNulty, Pele later said he shouted "gol" as he got on the end of Jairzinho's cross, only to see Banks keep out the header. The goalkeeper is said to have later modestly described the stop as "lucky" and noted "they won't remember me for winning the World Cup, it will be for that save."


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