Pele: Gordon Banks was a magic goalkeeper and a fine human being

February 12, 2019

Pele has led tributes to World Cup hero Gordon Banks, describing him as a "goalkeeper with magic" and a "fine human being".

The former Leicester and Stoke City star died peacefully overnight aged 81. In 2016, Banks revealed he was battling kidney cancer for a second time.

Despite playing in every game during England's glorious 1966 World Cup triumph, it was a save four years later from a Pele header that catapulted Banks to global stardom.

:: Gordon Banks was a national hero - didn't he deserve better?

In a post on Facebook, the Brazil legend paid tribute to his friend and looked back on that iconic moment - which is still widely regarded as one of the greatest stops of all time.

Pele wrote: "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. I couldn't believe what I saw. Even now when I watch it, I can't believe it. I can't believe how he moved so far, so fast.

"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."

Sir Bobby Charlton, who played alongside Banks in 1966, echoed Pele's words.

He said: "I was proud to call him a teammate. Obviously we shared that great day in 1966 but it was more than that. Even though I was on the pitch and have seen it many times since, I still don't know how he saved that header from Pele.

"Gordon will be deeply missed and our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time."

Banks made a total of 73 appearances for England during his career, and picked up six FIFA goalkeeper of the year awards.

Current England boss 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.

"On behalf of everyone connected with England, I send my condolences to his wife Ursula, his family and friends."

Peter Shilton, who followed Banks as England number one, tweeted: "I'm devastated - today I've lost my hero our condolences to his family rip Gordon."

At club level he managed two League Cup wins - the first with Leicester in 1964 and Stoke in 1972.

Banks lost the sight in his right eye after being injured in a road accident in 1972 and retired at the age of 34 as a result.

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