I'm glad he saved my header – Pele in moving tribute to 'magic' Gordon Banks

Brazil great Pele paid a moving tribute to England's World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks following his death, lauding him as "magic" and revealing his gratitude for being denied by what became known as the "Save of the Century".

Banks' family released a statement through his former club Stoke City on Tuesday, confirming the 81-year-old had "passed away peacefully overnight".

He was capped 73 times by his country and was an ever-present as Alf Ramsey's team claimed World Cup glory on home soil in 1966.

But Banks, widely considered to be among the greatest goalkeepers ever, produced one of the World Cup's most iconic moments four years later, pulling off an astonishing reaction save to keep out a header from Pele in Mexico City.

That save was the catalyst to a long friendship, and Pele penned a touching tribute to Banks on Tuesday.

A post on his official Facebook profile read: "For many people, their memory of Gordon Banks is defined by the save he made against me in 1970. I understand why.

"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 l, I can't believe it. I can't believe how he moved so far, so fast.

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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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"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 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."

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