Profile Born in Sheffield on 30 December 1937, Gordon Banks is widely regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers football has ever seen.
If a survey was conducted among football lovers as to their favourite save by a goalkeeper of all-time, the odds are that Gordon Banks’ spectacular parry of Pelé’s downward header towards the corner of the goal during the 1970 World Cup would take first prize. This moment is an apt indication of why Gordon Banks must be considered one of the best goalkeepers of all-time.
Gordon Banks, almost a look-alike of the great French actor Fernandel, started his career at humble Chesterfield, where he made his debut at the age of 21. By the end of the 1950s he had established himself as one of the brightest goalkeeping prospects, earning him a transfer to top flight side Leicester City. It was there that he became a possible England national team player. In 1963, England manager Alf Ramsey first tested Banks in goal as England lost 2-1 to Scotland at Wembley. In spite of the defeat, Banks had made a favourable impression and was on his way to cementing his presence as England’s first choice goalkeeper.
In the 1966 World Cup, hosts England were among the favourites to lift the Jules Rimet trophy. With Banks as their custodian, England kept the opposition at bay in their first four matches before finally conceding a goal to Portugal’s Eusébio in a 2-1 semi-final victory. Banks’ absence with a stomach upset from the 1970 World Cup quarter final against West Germany is widely regarded as a major contributor to England failing to hold onto their two goal lead in the match. After 73 caps, Banks retired from international football in 1972, and a few months later his career ended after a car crash led him to lose the sight of his right eye.