The passing of Gordon Banks announced this morning has not only resonated English supporters of all ages, but the whole football world.
A figure synonymous with football’s greatest show, few, if any goalkeepers have made as much of an impact on the World Cup as Banks, whose exploits in 1966 and 1970 have cemented his name in the competition’s hall of fame.
Named as FIFA’s Goalkeeper of the Year a staggering six times, being an integral part of England 1966 triumph and the purveyor of arguably the greatest save the World Cup has ever seen to deny the competition’s greatest ever player, no goalkeeper can claim to be as distinguished and recognised in international football as Banks.
Not merely adored by England followers, the stopper has been immortalised outside of The Britannia Stadium, having made 250 appearances and winning a League Cup Winner’s medal with Stoke City. Here he adorns his trademark and unmistakable smile as he raises the Jules Rimet trophy above his head.
Part of the national team’s standalone tournament victory, individual accolades were also forthcoming and is recognised just as much as the man behind the World Cup’s greatest ever save as a winner of the competition.
What was a huge failure at the time as the holders crashed out at the Quarter Final stage in Mexico at the hands of Brazil, Banks’ save is far certainly more memorable than the result from that game.
Pele, the man who scored over 1000 times in his career and indeed one of the World Cup’s greatest goals in this very encounter rose unchallenged to seemingly head home from an inch-perfect Jairzinhocross.
Donning a vivid blue shirt, Banks leapt like a salmon to his right-hand post and flicked over the crossbar, to produce a moment of brilliance that will outlive any one person.
Revered in glory, Banks’ career was not without tragedy. A car crash in 1972 as he was returning from Stoke City’s training ground, in which a shard of glass from his windscreen injured his right eye, effectively ended the England number one’s career.
Despite brief cameos in the America and the League of Ireland, Banks never played at a high standard again and England failed to qualify for the 1974 World Cup. Nevertheless, a career cut short was still a career to surpass and humble the most decorated of footballers.
Forever an England and world football legend. RIP Gordon Banks