England 1966 World Cup winner Gordon Banks dies aged 81
Sir Bobby Charlton and Pele lead the tributes from the footballing world.
England’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks has died at the age of 81, with 1966 team-mate Sir Bobby Charlton leading the tributes.
Banks, who revealed in 2016 that he was battling kidney cancer for the second time, died peacefully overnight.
Charlton said on Manchester United’s Twitter account: “Gordon was a fantastic goalkeeper and I was proud to call him a team-mate.
“He will be deeply missed and our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”
Aside from his role in England’s Wembley triumph, Banks is best remembered for his stunning save to keep out Pele’s header at the 1970 World Cup.
The Brazil superstar paid his own tribute to his old rival and great friend. He said: “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. Whenever we met, it was always like we had never been apart.
“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.”
A statement issued by former club Stoke on the Banks family’s behalf said: “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.
“We would ask that the privacy of the family is respected at this time.”
Banks made 510 league appearances for Chesterfield, Leicester and Stoke before retiring from the professional game at the age of 34 following a road accident which cost him the sight in his right eye, although he later returned briefly to the sport in America.
He won the League Cup with both Leicester and Stoke but it was on the international stage that Banks established himself as a star, making his England debut in a 2-1 defeat by Scotland at Wembley in April 1963 and going on to win 73 senior caps, most famously in the 4-2 World Cup final victory over West Germany.
Sir Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat-trick in the final, said: “Very sad to hear the news that Gordon has died.
“One of the very greatest. Thinking especially of Ursula, Julia, Wendy and Robert. Sad for football, Stoke City and for England fans. Will be very sadly missed.”
England manager Gareth Southgate said on the Football Association website: “I am deeply saddened to hear of Gordon’s passing.
“An all-time great for England, I was privileged enough to be in his company on a number of occasions.
“It was particularly special to be with him at a Football Writers’ tribute dinner last year and wish him well on his 80th birthday.
“Gordon spoke to the room about that incredible save from Pele against Brazil back in 1970 and moments like that from his remarkable World Cup-winning career will continue to linger long in the memory.
“On behalf of everyone connected with England, I send my condolences to his wife Ursula, his family and friends.”
England captain and World Cup Golden Boot winner Harry Kane tweeted: “Very sad to hear the news of Gordon Banks passing away. An @England legend, World Cup winner and made one of the best saves ever. Rest in peace.”
Banks, who is survived by his wife Ursula and their children Robert, Wendy and Julia, had served as Stoke’s club president since 2000, and chairman Peter Coates paid tribute to a man who helped the Potters win the League Cup in 1972.
Coates told the club’s official website, www.stokecityfc.com: “Gordon was an iconic figure not only in English football, but across the globe and it’s deeply sad that we have lost him.
“It’s not just people of my generation who know how good a goalkeeper he was – people of all ages talked about Gordon reverentially. He was outstanding and it was an absolute privilege to watch him playing for Stoke City.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to Gordon’s wife Ursula, his three children Robert, Wendy and Julia and the rest of the Banks family at this time.”
Current Stoke keeper Jack Butland called Banks “a legend to all goalkeepers, an icon to our game, but most of all an incredibly humble and passionate gentleman”.
He added: “It’s been an honour to get to know such a great man over the last few years and spend time with his family.
“Listening to his stories and being in his presence are memories I’ll cherish forever.”
Presenter and former England and Leicester striker Gary Lineker tweeted: “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”
Ex-England striker Michael Owen tweeted: “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.”
Peter Shilton, who followed Banks as England number one, told Sky Sports News HQ: “We had a friendship – we were rivals as well, but we had a friendship – and it’s just so tragic news that he’s finally gone.
“I know he hadn’t been very well, but it’s hit me quite hard that he’s actually passed away.”
The Germany football team’s Twitter account posted an image of Banks embracing opposition players on the Wembley pitch in 1966.
“A fierce opponent and a good man. Rest in peace, Gordon Banks,” they tweeted.
Ex-England midfielder Paul Gascoigne tweeted: “So sorry to hear the news of my good friend gordon banks who passed away a few hrs ago.”
He added: “What a loss & an unbelievable goal keeper & an incredible man a really true gentleman RIP mate xxGAZZAxxx.”