England’s 1966 national team World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks has died aged 81.
Regarded as one of the game’s greatest in his position, Banks was named Fifa goalkeeper of the year six times and earned 73 caps for England.
When England won that historical World Cup in 1966 I wasn’t even born yet, but growing up in the UK and playing in goal, needless to say that Gordon Banks was my hero, back then he was the Superhero of all young goalkeepers! Back in 1980 when my family and I moved to Italy all the young soccer players loved Dino Zoff, another icon goalkeeper, but when I named Gordon Banks, they certainly knew who he was and I remember that I would debate with them who was the best, Banks or Zoff. Still today talking to coaches or soccer fans my age, they all know who Gordon was.
Banks also played in the United States, to be more precise right here in Florida. He defended the goal of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, that year they won the regular season title and the division title and Banks was nominated All-Star goalkeeper of the year.
Sadly since the mid 1980’s England has never came up with a quality goalkeeper, the 3 lions keeper school has been flat, nothing, nada, niet! This is another reason why Banks is always remembered by every generation of soccer fans, he really was England’s greatest goalkeeper of all times and for many (including myself) he was the greatest goalie the world has ever seen!
FIFA (World soccer federation) considers Banks save against Brazil in the 1970 world cup the greatest save ever. Still today where modern goalkeeper training and techniques have created a new and advanced breed of keepers, no one has made such an amazing save. Pele himself (the greatest soccer player of all times) said: “I have no idea how he took that ball off the goal line!”
It is a very sad day for soccer, but most of all for us that have played and now coach in that role. The Goalkeeper of Goalkeepers has left us forever.