Gordon Banks: A World Cup winner who denied Pele with the Save of the Century

Gordon Banks, who has died at the age of 81, was not just one of the few Englishmen to have won a World Cup, he was also one of the few to leave Pele dumbfounded.

Having won the FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year award for six straight years between 1966 and 1971, Banks was a model of consistency, but he was also a shot-stopper who saved his best for the biggest moments.

A League Cup winner with both Leicester City and Stoke City, Banks recorded four clean sheets at the World Cup in 1966 when Alf Ramsey's team won the tournament on home soil, and it was in Mexico four years later when he somehow denied Pele with the 'Save of the Century'.

Despite losing sight in his right eye in a car crash in 1972, Banks returned to the sport in 1977 with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, playing in the North American Soccer League alongside greats such as Pele and George Best.

Here we take a look at Banks' career following the news of his passing.

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Gordon Banks
File photo dated 28-06-1966 of Leicester City goalkeeper Gordon Banks.
File photo dated 27-10-2015 of Former Stoke City goalkeeper Gordon Banks.
File photo dated 05-01-2016 of Former England and World Cup winning players (left to right) George Cohen, Gordon Banks, Martin Peters and Sir Geoff Hurst with the Jules Rimet trophy.
File photo dated 12-05-2013 of Former Stoke City goalkeeper Gordon Banks holds the Jules Rimet trophy as he is awarded a a Stoke City shirt before the game.
File photo dated 05-05-1965 of Gordon Banks jumps to make a save in the match with Hungary at Wembley.
File photo dated 05-05-1965 of Gordon Banks jumps to make a save in the match with Hungary at Wembley.
File photo dated 12-07-2008 of Former England goalkeeper Gordon Banks (centre) with Archbishop Desmond Tutu (left) and former Brazilian star Pele.
File photo dated 10-07-2008 of Former England goalkeeper Gordon Banks.
File photo dated 04-05-1972 of Gordon Banks, the Stoke and England goalkeeper after he received the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award for 1972.
File photo dated 04-03-2004 of Former International soccer players England goal keeper, Gordon Banks (left) with a picture of his famous save from Brazil striker Pele (right).
File photo dated 16-06-2004 of Model Nell McAndrew and 1966 World Cup England goalkeeper Gordon Banks at the unveiling of the new Butlins Redcoat 'strip'.
File photo dated 30-07-1966 of the two teams line up before the match: (left to right) West Germany's Horst-Dieter Hottges, Wolfgang Overath, Siggi Held, Helmut Haller, Wolfgang Weber, Lothar Emmerich, Willi Schulz, Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, Hans Tilkowski and Uwe Seeler, linesman Tofik Bakhramov, referee Gottfried Dienst, linesman Karol Galba, England's Bobby Moore, George Cohen, Alan Ball, Gordon Banks, Roger Hunt, Ray Wilson, Nobby Stiles, Bobby Charlton, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Jack Charlton.
File photo dated 14-02-1996 of Former England goalie Gordon Banks with his daughter Wendy in the goalmouth at Stoke City Football club after her marriage at the ground today to Shaun Beech.
A statue of former Stoke City and England goalkeeper Gordon Banks outside the ground before the game
Gordon Banks poses for a photograph during the Football Writers Association Tribute night at The Savoy, London.
Gordon Banks who receives the trophy on behalf of Pele during the Football Writers Association Tribute Night at The Savoy, London.
World Cup 2018 draw ambassadors Gordon Banks during the FIFA 2018 World Cup draw at The Kremlin, Moscow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo Picture date: Friday December 1, 2017. See PA story SOCCER World Cup. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTICTIONS: Editorial use only. No transmission of sound or moving images. No use with any unofficial third party logos. No altering or adjusting of photographs.
World Cup 2018 draw ambassadors Nikita Simonyan (left) and Gordon Banks during a media call at the World Trade Centre Moscow, Moscow.
George Cohen (left) and Gordon Banks inside Wembley Stadium, London to help launch the film Bobby about captain Bobby Moore and England's World Cup victory 50 years ago this year.
George Cohen (left) and Gordon Banks inside Wembley Stadium, London to help launch the film Bobby about captain Bobby Moore and England's World Cup victory 50 years ago this year.
Gordon Banks during a Football Pools Fives event at Tupton High School, Chesterfield.
Gordon Banks MBE greets ex-footballer for Germany Hans Tilkowski at Wembley Stadium, Tuesday March 21, 2006. Seven of England's 1966 World Cup winning team have returned to the scene of their triumph at Wembley - along with 11 members of the West German squad who they beat to lift the trophy. The event has been arranged to mark the 40th anniversary of English soccer's greatest achievement and as anticipation builds before the World Cup in Germany this summer. See PA story SPORT England. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Andrew Parsons/PA
Nell McAndrew and Gordon Banks launch the new Butlins Redcoat developed with the help of the British Fashion Council, Westminster Boathouse, London. Doug Peters/allactiondigital.com
Seven of England's victorious 1966 World Cup winning team (L 2 R) George Cohen, Sir Geoff Hurst (top), Alan Ball (B), Gordon Banks, Jack Charlton (top), Martin Peters and Roger Hunt, with a replica Jules Rimet trophy at the launch of the National Lottery. * Instants scratchcard game 'Game of Two Halves'.On an open top bus outside the central London hotel where they celebrated beating West Germany 35 years ago,
Legendary England goalkeeper Gordon Banks at Maine Road to have casts of his hands made for The Walk of Fame
Gordon Banks watches as Sir Stanley Matthews' funeral cortege leaves St Peter's church in Stoke. Former England full-back Jimmy Armfield led the tributes at the funeral, as thousands of mourners stood outside the church as the service was relayed to them via loudspeakers.
19/4/95. Gordon Banks Testimonial Leicester City v International XI ...Gordon Banks with Gary Lineker before tonights game
Gordon Banks tries an American Football kit on for size at his new home ground in Fort Lauderdale
Gordon Banks, England goalkeeper
Gordon Banks, 33, the Stoke and England goalkeeper, at London's Cafe Royal after he received the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award for 1972.
Gordon Banks, Stoke City goalkeeper
England's Bobby Moore (r) looks on as Scotland's Hugh Curran (c) challenges England goalkeeper Gordon Banks (l)
Stoke City goalkeeper Gordon Banks shows off his greatest assets.
England's Gordon Banks
(L-R) Stoke City captain Gordon Banks shakes hands with Arsenal captain Frank McLintock
(L-R) England goalkeeper Gordon Banks shakes hands with Eusebio after the Portuguese legend (in London to present the Rothmans Golden Boot awards) took a few penalties against him at Loftus Road
Gordon Banks, Stoke City
England goalkeeper Gordon Banks leads the team out at Wembley
England Team Group Back Row: Mullery, Keith Newton, Jackie Charlton, Gordon Banks, George Corker, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton. Front Row: Hunt, Ball, Hurst, Peters
The two teams line up before the match: (l-r) West Germany's Horst-Dieter Hottges, Wolfgang Overath, Siggi Held, Helmut Haller, Wolfgang Weber, Lothar Emmerich, Willi Schulz, Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, Hans Tilkowski and Uwe Seeler, linesman Tofik Bakhramov, referee Gottfried Dienst, linesman Karol Galba, England's Bobby Moore, George Cohen, Alan Ball, Gordon Banks, Roger Hunt, Ray Wilson, Nobby Stiles, Bobby Charlton, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Jack Charlton
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THE EARLY YEARS

A young Banks was left devastated when dropped from his Sheffield schoolboys side as a teenager, and he took up work with a coal merchants and as an apprentice bricklayer in order to earn his keep.

It was Chesterfield who gave a 15-year-old Banks his break by offering him youth terms and by 1958 he was making his first-team debut, in a Third Division fixture against Colchester United.

Sold to Leicester City the following year, Banks' early Wembley memories were not pleasant - he and the Foxes lost the 1961 and 1963 FA Cup finals to Tottenham and Manchester United.

His performances for Leicester did see Banks gain international recognition, however, and he made his England bow in 1963, losing 2-1 to the old enemy Scotland at Wembley.

The first trophy of Banks' career arrived in 1964, as Leicester defeated his future club Stoke City over two legs to lift the League Cup. But the greatest prize of all was soon to follow...

WEMBLEY WOE BECOMES WORLD CUP GLORY

England's 1966 World Cup story might have been very different had manager Alf Ramsey taken a dimmer view of Banks and a number of other senior players, including Bobby Moore and Charlton, breaking a curfew ahead of the tournament.

Having escaped serious punishment, the side eased through the group phase, drawing against Uruguay before beating Mexico and France - all without Banks having to pick the ball out of his net.

Another clean sheet followed in the quarter-final win over Argentina - an ill-tempered affair which saw Ramsey describe the visitors as "animals" - before a 2-1 semi-final success over Portugal, which saw Banks' goal finally breached by Eusebio's penalty.

And so to the final against West Germany, where Wolfgang Weber's late equaliser forced extra-time before Geoff Hurst completed his hat-trick, accompanied by the immortal words of commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme.

"As I descended the steps from the royal box, I couldn't believe the journey I had made," Banks said later. "The road from Tinsley Rec to a World Cup final had been long and winding, but the difficulties encountered along the way suddenly evaporated as my whole being was engulfed in euphoria."

ANOTHER WEMBLEY TRIUMPH

Amid competition from Peter Shilton, Banks was sold to Stoke in 1967 and five years later lifted his second League Cup, this time in a one-off affair against Chelsea at a Wembley Stadium that was starting to represent the stage for fonder memories.

"I'd played in two FA Cup finals with Leicester and two League Cup finals, but this was my greatest and proudest moment in club football," Banks said. "Not only because we won that final, but because Stoke City had been playing football for over 100 years and had never won anything before.

"To walk out with the team and listen to the roar of our supporters was great. Then to come back home next day and have 100,000 people welcome us was simply fantastic. I don't think the city had ever had that many people out before. I've always appreciated how the club and the fans appreciated me."

SAVE OF THE CENTURY

England's World Cup defence in 1970 ended at the quarter-final stage as West Germany gained a measure of revenge.

Banks missed the game through illness and, watching back at the hotel on a feed delayed by almost an hour, did not believe his team-mates when they returned with the score reading 2-0 only to inform him they had gone on to lose 3-2.

A week earlier, Banks had produced the moment that will define his career and perhaps his life.

In the 1-0 group-stage defeat to Brazil, Banks pulled off what became known as the "Save of the Century", somehow getting low to his right to tip Pele's powerful downward header up and over the crossbar.

"I landed crumpled against the inner side netting of the goal and my first reaction was to look out at Pele. I hadn't a clue where the ball was," Banks said. "He'd grounded to a halt, head clasped between his hands and I knew then all that I needed to know.

"As I got to my feet Pele came up to me and patted me on the back. 'I thought that was a goal,' he said. 'You and me both,' I replied."

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