England World Cup winner Banks passes away

One of the greatest goalkeepers of his age, 1966 FIFA World Cup-winning England great Gordon Banks has died at the age of 81.

Gordon Banks has died at the age of 81
Gordon Banks has died at the age of 81 ©Getty Images

Gordon Banks, England's 1966 FIFA World Cup-winning goalkeeper, has died at the age of 81.

Banks was a key player in Alf Ramsey's England team which won the World Cup on home soil in 1966. Banks did not concede a single goal until the semi-final against Portugal.

Four years later, at the finals in Mexico, he produced a near-miraculous save to keep out a Pelé header in England's group encounter with Brazil in Guadalajara. Banks' absence from the subsequent 3-2 quarter-final defeat against West Germany, owing to a stomach bug, remains one of the England national team great 'what if' moments.

Gordon Banks in full flight
Gordon Banks in full flight©Getty Images

Overall, Banks made 73 England appearances in a career in which he was twice a losing English FA Cup finalist with Leicester City, in 1961 and 1963. He was an English League Cup winner on two occasions, with Leicester and Stoke City in 1964 and 1972 respectively.

He was the reigning English Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year when his top-class career was ended abruptly by a road accident in October 1972, in which he lost the sight in his right eye.

World Cup-winning team-mate Sir Bobby Charlton said he was "deeply saddened" to hear of Banks' death. "Gordon was a fantastic goalkeeper," he said, "without doubt one of the best England has ever had. I was proud to call him a team-mate.

"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 Pelé."