Gordon Banks was a goalkeeper with magic – Pele
Media playback is not supported on this device Watch: Banks makes wonder save to deny Pele at 1970 World Cup Brazil legend Pele described ex-England international Gordon Banks as a “goalkeeper with magic” after the 1966 World Cup winner died at the age of 81.
The football world has been paying tribute to Banks, a world champion 53 years ago but best remembered for a save from Pele at the 1970 World Cup.
But iconic forward Pele said he was “glad” his header was kept out.
“That act was the start of a friendship between us that I will always treasure,” the 78-year-old said.
“Whenever we met, it was always like we had never been apart.”
Three-time World Cup winner Pele said on social media : “I have great sadness in my heart today and I send condolences to the family he was so proud of.
“Rest in peace, my friend. Yes, you were a goalkeeper with magic. But you were also so much more. You were a fine human being.” Pele (left) said he thought he had scored in the match against England, only for Banks to deny him ‘Banks appeared like a kind of blue phantom’
Banks’ save to deny Pele 49 years ago has been described as the ‘save of the century’ and Pele has previously admitted he thought he had scored.
“For many people, their memory of Gordon Banks is defined by the save he made against me in 1970. I understand why,” Pele added.
“The save was one of the best I have ever seen – in real life and in all the thousands of games I have watched since.
“When you are a footballer, you know straight away how well you have hit the ball. I hit that header exactly as I had hoped. Exactly where I wanted it to go. And I was ready to celebrate.
“But then this man, Banks, appeared in my sight, like a kind of blue phantom, is how I described him.
“He came from nowhere and he did something I didn’t feel was possible. He pushed my header, somehow, up and over. And I couldn’t believe what I saw. Even now when I watch it, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe how he moved so far, so fast.
“I scored so many goals in my life, but many people, when they meet me, always ask me about that save. While it was indeed phenomenal, my memory of Gordon is not defined by that – it is defined by his friendship. He was a kind and warm man who gave so much to people.
“So I am glad he saved my header – because that act was the start of a friendship between us that I will always treasure.” Pele posted a photo of himself and Banks on social media and described him as ‘like a kind of blue phantom’ for the way he saved his header in 1970 ‘He should have caught it’ – Mullery
England team-mate Alan Mullery, who played alongside Banks during the 1970 World Cup game, said: “He was probably the best there has ever been.”
But he joked that the former Stoke goalkeeper, who won the League Cup in 1972, should have caught the ball when denying Pele.
“I patted him on his head, and I said ‘why didn’t you catch it?’ and the abuse that came back was unbelievable,” he told BBC Radio 5 live.
“He was the best at that time. We had some great goalkeepers in those days, and the only person I can think who came near was Pat Jennings.”
Another England team-mate Sir Bobby Charlton said: “Gordon was a fantastic goalkeeper, without doubt one of the best England has ever had.
“I was proud to call him a team-mate. Obviously we shared that great day in 1966 but it was more than that. Even though I was on the pitch and have seen it many times since, I still don’t know how he saved that header from Pele.
“Gordon will be deeply missed and our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.” Media playback is not supported on this device Archive: Banks describes wonder save from Pele at 1970 World Cup Banks ‘set standard’ for others to follow
Banks, who won the League Cup with Leicester and Stoke, paved the way for a rich heritage in English goalkeeping.
After he retired in 1973, Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence shared England goalkeeping duties, which Clemence says “helped” them maintain high standards.
Former Leicester, Nottingham Forest and Derby keeper Shilton told the BBC: “I was devastated, because I didn’t realise how bad it was. He was my hero when I was a youngster growing up in Leicester. I followed his career and me being a Leicester lad, I had a chance to meet him.
“For about a year I used to train with him once a week, I had the opportunity to learn how he had this great positional sense and how hard he worked at his game. He was one of the greatest of all time, he was a World Cup winner and made that fantastic save from Pele which made him famous worldwide.”
Ex-Liverpool player Clemence added: “He was a mentor for me and he made it look easy when everybody who has played in that position knows it’s not. He was a special man and everybody in football is so sad to hear he is leaving us.
“Peter Shilton and myself were sharing the job [after he stopped playing for England] and we knew we were following a great. We knew we had big shoes to fill and that helped us as well. We had to keep the standard of English goalkeeping at the level Gordon had set.” Buffon ‘built his dreams on your perfect save’
More modern-day goalkeepers were quick to pay their respects too.
Italian World Cup winner and Paris St-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said: “I am one of the many who built their dreams on your perfect save! Once more, with all my heart: thank you.”
Former Manchester goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel added: “So sad to hear that Gordon Banks one of my heroes and a true legend in life and football, has passed away.
“An inspiration, a winner and a true gentleman.”
And Stoke and England goalkeeper Jack Butland told the BBC: “Over the last few years I’ve got to know him really well, and we talked about everything from the World Cup to defending corners, so [the news] has a bit more to it, for me. It was an absolute honour to have known him
“He had a way of making everyone feel brilliant around him. He always made me feel extremely happy. People will tell you what a gentleman he was.”
Asked about Banks’ famous save from 1970, Butland added: “From the man he was, the goalkeeper he was, from being our only World Cup winning goalkeeper, and the fact it was an incredible save, which I’ve heard him talk about through his words, for me, personally, it is the best save ever.” Share this page