World Cup Legends

Gordon Banks: Goal saviour of the century

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Gordon Banks, OBE was born on 30 December 1937. He is a former England international football goalkeeper. He made 628 appearances during a 15 year career in the Football League, and won 73 caps for his country. The IFFHS named Banks the second best goalkeeper of the 20th century – after Lev Yashin (1st) and ahead of Dino Zoff (3rd). He was named FWA Footballer of the Year in 1972, and was named FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year on six occasions.

Gordon Banks

Surname: Banks

Firstname: Gordon

Country: England

Date of birth: 1937-12-20

Birthplace: Sheffield

Height: 183 cm

Weight: 78.0 kg

Playing Career

Postition: Goalkeeper


Chesterfield (1955-59), Leicester City (1959-67), Stoke City (1967-72), Fort Lauderdale (USA/1977-78)

International appearances: 73

International debut: 06/04/1963, England-Scotland (1-2)

Last international appearance: 27/05/1972, Scotland-England (0-1)

Playing Honours


World Cup: winner (1966), quarter-finalist (1970), 2 appearances, 9 matches, 4 goals conceded.


-English League Cups (1964, 1972)

Other Honours

English Footballer of the year (1972)

North American goalkeeper of the year (1977)

OBE (Order of the British Empire - 1970)

Coaching Career


Port Vale (Dec. 1978-Dec. 1979), Telford United

Save of the Century

There is always plenty of space in football almanacs for the exploits of brilliant strikers and cunning playmakers, but goalkeepers are rarely championed in the same way.

England goalkeeper Gordon Banks is an exception.

Banks had been regarded as a phenomenon in England since the heady days of 1966 when he helped England win their one and only World Cup.

But it was in the 1970 World Cup that the Englishman's goalkeeping brilliance became famous across the world.

England were playing Brazil and when Jairzinho whipped a cross into the path of Pele, just seven yards out, a goal looked a certainty.

Banks somehow got back across his goal and hurled himself across the angle of Pele's bullet-like header and with one hand managed a reflex scooping motion which knocked the ball off its trajectory and over the bar.

Frame by frame images of this extraordinary save made their way around the world and the name Banks was on everyone's lips.

It was a huge loss for England when Banks later got food poisoning at that Mexico World Cup and missed the quarter-final against West Germany which they lost 3-2.


Near fatal accident

"Banks of England" had come a long way since his debut at 18 for lowly Chesterfield.

After doing his military service in West Germany, Banks came back to England and decided to return to goalkeeping.

His reflex saves and growing experience led him to Leicester City, where his catalogue of breathtaking stops won him a call-up to the national side in 1963.

He helped Leicester to two FA Cup finals only to lose both, but the team did win the 1964 League Cup.

The club opted to trust their future with the hands of a young Peter Shilton while Banks moved to Stoke City, helping the club to his second League Cup in 1972.

Shortly after becoming English player of the year in 1972, a rare distinction for a goalkeeper, tragedy struck.

Banks should have continued his international career for many years but a serious car accident cost him his right eye and nearly ended in death.

After spending five years in retirement, he made a brief comeback at the US club Fort Lauderdale at the age of 40 and in 2000, he was given an award as the second greatest goalkeeper of the century behind Russian Lev Yashin.

He was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1970 but went on to sell his World Cup winners medal in 2001 for just under 125,000 pounds in order to give the money to his children. 

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