Gordon Banks

England's World Cup-winning keeper

Player Biography
Full name: Gordon Banks
Date of birth: December 30, 1937
Clubs played for: Chesterfield, Leicester, Stoke, Fort Lauderdale Strikers
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Club Career

Hailed by many as the greatest goalkeeper who ever lived, Gordon Banks has entered football’s annals above all on account of his incredible diving save from a Pele header when England met Brazil in the 1970 World Cup.

Born in Sheffield, Banks joined Chesterfield, the club he supported as a boy, in 1955, but it wasn’t until 1958 that he made his debut in the Third Division. After playing just 23 games, Banks was talent-spotted and sold to First Division Leicester for £7,000. During seven years with the Foxes he sealed his reputation as a keeper of exceptional talent and won the 1964 League Cup against Stoke . Leicester also made two FA Cup finals, in 1961 and 1963, but Banks picked up losers' medals on both occasions.

England manager Alf Ramsey was impressed enough, though, to pick him for his country and Banks was soon established as the country’s top stopper. He was an influential member of the team that won the 1966 World Cup on home soil, but Leicester still saw fit to sell him to Stoke the following year, with Peter Shilton taking over between the sticks at Filbert Street.

It was as a Stoke player that Banks made that 1970 wonder save from Pele and it seemed that the older he got the more supreme his skills became. He won a League Cup with Stoke in 1972 and was voted Footballer Of The Year, but that same year a car crash left Banks blind in one eye and he was forced to accept that he could not continue to perform at the highest level. It was a tragic end to a stellar career.

Banks played games in Ireland and the United States following his accident, but eventually went into coaching, management and football-related business.

Club Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1955-59 Chesterfield 23 0
1959-67 Leicester 293 0
1967-72 Stoke 194 0
1967 Cleveland Stokers 12 0
1977-78 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 39 0

International Career

Alf Ramsey first selected Banks for England against Scotland at Wembley in April 1963 and, despite finishing on the losing side, he did enough to convince the boss he was the man to rely on as England built towards the 1966 World Cup. Banks never looked back and remained England’s first choice for both the 1966 and 1970 World Cups. Banks was still the country’s first choice stopper when his career was ended by the 1972 car crash in which he lost an eye.

International Career Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1963-72 England 73 0

Key Games

England 4-2 West Germany (World Cup final, July 30, 1966)

Despite being involved in a mix-up with defender Jack Charlton that gifted West Germany their first goal, Banks then went on to turn in his usual assured performance and played his part in England’s most famous football victory of all-time, the 4-2 win that gave the national side the World Cup.

England 0-1 Brazil (World Cup finals, June 7, 1970)

England lost 1-0 to Brazil in the 1970 World Cup Group Three qualifying game, but the match is really remembered for Banks’ wonder save from Pele. A wicked cross to the back post from Brazil’s right winger Jairzinho had Banks scrabbling back across his goal. Pele leapt to head the ball downwards and just inside the post with astonishing force. It was surely a goal. Yet Banks somehow covered an immense amount of ground, then arched both down and backwards to dive and flip the ball up and over the bar. Nobody could believe he’d pulled off such an incredible stop.

West Ham 0-1 Stoke (League Cup semi-final 2nd leg, December 15, 1971)

Stoke met West Ham in a two-legged 1971 League Cup semi-final. They lost 2-1 at home in the first leg and a home win looked odds on in the return, especially when the Hammers were awarded a penalty. Geoff Hurst stepped up and hammered the ball goalwards with extraordinary force, but Banks somehow managed to palm it over the crossbar. Stoke went on to win the game 1-0 and eventually the trophy.


Club Competition Year
Leicester League Cup 1964
Stoke League Cup 1972
England World Cup 1966

Did You Know...?

Banks was one of the first players to be inducted in the English Football Hall Of Fame in 2002.

He sold his World Cup winners' medal at auction in London in 2001. It fetched £124,750.

There is a Gordon Banks monument, titled ‘A Hero Who Could Fly’, outside Stoke’s Britannia Stadium

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From the back pages

Wembley Is The Golden Gateway Published: May 24, 1963

FA Cup final preview

Manchester United 3-1 Leicester Published: May 27, 1963

FA Cup final match report

England v Germany Published: July 30, 1966

World Cup final preview

England 4-2 West Germany (aet) Published: August 1, 1966

World Cup final match report

England Are Up Against It Published: June 8, 1970

World Cup front page

Brazil 1-0 England Published: June 8, 1970

World Cup finals match report

Northern Ireland 0-1 England Published: May 17, 1971

Home International Championship match report

West Ham 0-1 Stoke Published: December 16, 1971

League Cup semi-final 2nd leg match report

The Greatest Save Ever! Published: December 5, 1996

Schmeichel's wonder stop is hailed as a world beater

'You're No.1 Banksie' Published: December 6, 1996

Schmeichel claims his great save was 'pure luck'

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