England’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper, Gordon Banks, has died aged 81.
Banks made 628 appearances during a 15-year career in the Football League, and won 73 caps for his country. Regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, the IFFHS named Banks the second-best goalkeeper of the 20th century – after Lev Yashin (1st) and ahead of Dino Zoff (3rd).He was named FWA Footballer of the Year in 1972, and was named FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year on six occasions.
He joined Chesterfield in March 1953, and played for their youth team in the 1956 FA Youth Cup final. He made his first team debut in November 1958, and was sold to Leicester City for £7,000 in July 1959. He played in four cup finals for the club, as they were beaten in the 1961 and 1963 FA Cup finals, before winning the League Cup in 1964 and finishing as finalists in 1965. During this time he established himself as England’s number one goalkeeper, and played every game of the nation’s 1966 World Cup victory. Despite this success, he was dropped by Leicester and sold on to Stoke City for £50,000 in April 1967. He made one of the game’s great saves to prevent a Pelé goal in the 1970 World Cup, but was absent due to illness as England were beaten by West Germany at the quarter-final stage.
He was Stoke’s goalkeeper in the 1972 League Cup win – the club’s only major honour. He was still Stoke and England’s number one when a car crash in October 1972 cost him both the sight in one eye and his professional career. He did though play in the United States for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 1977 and 1978. He briefly entered management with Telford United, but left the game after he was sacked in December 1980.