Football: Gordon Banks' illustrious career extended beyond iconic save

A statue of Stoke City and England's former goalkeeper Gordon Banks is seen draped in scarves holding a book to honour England's World Cup winning goalkeeper, outside the Bet365 stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, central England on Feb 12, 2019.
A statue of Stoke City and England's former goalkeeper Gordon Banks is seen draped in scarves holding a book to honour England's World Cup winning goalkeeper, outside the Bet365 stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, central England on Feb 12, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

Gordon Banks, the England football team's goalkeeper when they won the 1966 World Cup, died aged 81.

His former club Stoke announced this on Tuesday (Feb 12) and Banks' family said he died peacefully in his sleep overnight.

Here are seven things about the former star.

1.  Was picked up by amateur side Millspaugh after their regular goalkeeper went AWOL

He was a teenager then. A Millspaugh coach recognised Banks among the spectators and remembered he played for Sheffield Schoolboys. This was in the 1950s, and Banks had already left school by age 15 and was also working as a bagger with a local coal merchant.

2. Banks' first professional club was Chesterfield

This is where he signed a part-time £3-a-week contract in 1953.

However, he had to start from the reserves, where he conceded 122 goals in the 1954-55 season as they finished bottom of the Central League. Nevertheless, he improved and was awarded his first team debut in 1958.

3. He moved to Leicester City in 1959

He made the move for a £7,000 transfer fee and saw his wages increased to £15 a week. His career took off with the Foxes as he put in extra hours after training and devised his own drills in an era where there was no goalkeeping coaches.

Banks was called up to the England team and made his international debut in a 2-1 loss to Scotland in 1963. He set the record straight when he ended his international career with 73 caps and a 1-0 win over the Scots in 1972.

4. Won his first piece of silverware via the 1964 League Cup with Leicester

That preceded the biggest prize of them all - the 1966 World Cup. By now, Banks was England No. 1 and kept four straight clean sheets in the three group games and quarter-final.

There was some concern ahead of the semi-final against Portugal when a coach forgot and had to rush to buy chewing gum which Banks used to make his gloves stickier and improve his handling. Banks was beaten only by an Eusebio penalty, ending an England record of 721 minutes without conceding and the Three Lions won 2-1. They would go on and beat West Germany 4-2 in the final.

 

5. Despite winning the World Cup, he was dropped

Leicester dropped him at the end of the 1966/67 season with Peter Shilton on the rise. He won the League Cup again in 1972 and during his time with the Potters, he also played on loan in America with the Cleveland Stokers and in South Africa with Hellenic.

6. His was possibly the first goalkeeping save that went viral

Banks scrambled to his right to flick Pele's header, which was planted at almost ground level, over the bar. Pele was already celebrating and later called it the greatest save ever, while England captain Bobby Moore merely quipped: "You're getting old, Banksy, you used to hold on to them."

Brazil would win that 1970 World Cup group game 1-0 and go on to win their third world title.

7. A car crash in October 1972 took away the sight in his right eye and his professional career

Incredibly, he returned to play for Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 1977 and 1978 with just one good eye, and even won the North American Soccer League Goalkeeper of the Year in 1977 for the best defensive record.