England Hero Gordon Banks Dies Aged 81

Gordon Banks
England goalkeeper Gordon Banks makes a remarkable save from a header by Pele of Brazil during their first round match in the World Cup at Guadalajara, Mexico, June 1970. Brazil went on to win 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Allsport Hulton/Archive

England’s World Cup-winning hero Gordon Banks has sadly passed away at the age of 81. The goalkeeper, regarded by many as one of the best to ever play the game, made 73 international appearances for England. One of those was the famous World Cup final in 1966 as hosts England defeated West Germany 4-2.

England Hero Gordon Banks Passes Away

The news of Banks’s death was announced by his former club Stoke City on their official website. It read: “It is with great sadness that we announce that Gordon passed away peacefully overnight. We are devastated to lose him but we have so many happy memories and could not have been more proud of him. We would ask that the privacy of the family is respected at this time.”

A Club Career to be Proud Of

Born in Sheffield, Banks began his illustrious career at Chesterfield. After just 23 games, Leicester City came calling and signed him for £7,000. He would go onto make 293 appearances for the Foxes, playing in four cup finals. In 1967, less than a year after winning the World Cup, Banks was sold to Stoke City. He had fallen out of favour due to the emergence of a young Peter Shilton.

At Stoke, he would play almost 200 games, winning the League Cup in the process. In late 1972, Banks, who had arguably been playing his best football while at Stoke, was forced to retire. A car accident led to the loss of sight in his right eye. He did, however, make a short comeback in the USA. He played 37 games in 1977 and 1978.


Banks will always be remembered as one of England’s finest players. He made his debut in 1963 and would make the number one position his own. He went on to appear 73 times for his country.

The 1966 World Cup will never be forgotten and Banks was one of the stars for the Three Lions. He did not concede a goal in the tournament until a late Eusébio penalty for Portugal in the semi-final. England would famously go on to win the final in extra-time against West Germany.

The Greatest Save

During the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, Banks produced what many call the greatest save of all time. Against Brazil, Pele rose in the six-yard box to meet a cross with a powerful header. The ball looked to be heading into corner of the goal. Pele, shouted “Gol” as it looked unstoppable; however, Banks dove down to his right at full stretch and somehow managed to divert the ball over the crossbar.


Gordon Banks received many honours during his career. Not only did he win team international and domestic honours, but his career was also littered with individual honours too, including:

  • FIFA World Goalkeeper of the Year six times
  • Sportsman of the Year twice
  • Footballer of the Year
  • Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)

Gordon Banks 1937-2019

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  1. Gordon Banks, truly a brilliant goalkeeper.
    Just a note on the save from Pele. Banks, as I remember it, was ‘beaten’ by the header from Pele. In other words the ball had gone past him. He, therefore, had to dive down and throw his arms behind him to reach the ball. Somehow, who knows how, he managed to get to the ball and scoop what was a bullet header up and over the crossbar. Watching as a small boy in Ireland at the time, I wil never forget that save.


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