Gordon Banks, the World Cup-winning England goalkeeper who was also known for blocking a shot from Pele that many consider to be the greatest save in football history, has died. He was 81.
English football club Stoke, one of Banks’ former teams, posted a statement from his family on Twitter on Tuesday.
“It is with great sadness that we announce that Gordon passed away peacefully overnight,” the statement on Twitter said. “We are devastated to lose him but we have so many happy memories and could not have been more proud of him.”
No cause of death was given.
Known for his reflexes, Banks was one of English football’s most revered players after helping the team win the 1966 World Cup on home soil. He conceded only one goal in five games before England beat West Germany 4-2 in the final at Wembley Stadium.
Four years later at the next World Cup in Mexico, Banks scurried across his line and dived to his right in an attempt to stop a downward header from Pele. Banks managed to reach the low ball his right hand and scoop it over the crossbar.
As well as helping the #ThreeLions to glory in 1966, Gordon will be remembered for THAT save against Brazil four years later.
A true England legend 🙌pic.twitter.com/RTDZKaMKBt
— England (@England) February 12, 2019
“Pele actually shouted `Goal’ as he headed it,” Banks later said.
The England team Twitter account posted a video of the save on Tuesday.
“As well as helping the (hash)ThreeLions to glory in 1966, Gordon will be remembered for THAT save against Brazil four years later. A true England legend,” the England team wrote alongside the video.
Brazil eventually won that group game 1-0 and then went on to win its third World Cup title.
Banks had played in 73 internationals when he was forced to retire in 1972, at the age of 35, after losing the sight in his right eye in a car accident. He lost one of his kidneys to cancer in 2005 and revealed in 2015 that he was facing another battle against cancer.
Sad to hear that Gordon Banks has passed away at the age of 81.
Had the pleasure of meeting him a number of times and he was one of the game’s true gentlemen, not to mention one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.
Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/yj4JYZIaag
— michael owen (@themichaelowen) February 12, 2019
A fierce opponent and a good man.
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) February 12, 2019
We used to always speak about finishing. His advice to me was to try and catch keepers early – “get the shot away early” he’d say. In 1970 we saw one of the greatest crosses, met by one of the greatest headers and saved by one of the greatest goalkeepers. RIP GB ❤️🙏🏿 Thank you pic.twitter.com/q2PlIJiBmk
— Ian Wright (@IanWright0) 12 February 2019
— Raheem Sterling (@sterling7) 12 February 2019
Legend….. RIP Gordon Banks 🏴 pic.twitter.com/mrClVqJmUk
— Jamie Vardy (@vardy7) 12 February 2019
“If I could make a save like the one against Pele, while playing against the greatest in the world, then I will be able to battle through this health problem,” Banks said then.
“Banksie,” as he was known, started his club career at Chesterfield before spells with Leicester (1959-67) and Stoke (1967-73) in the top division of English football.