Tragically involved in a serious road accident October 22nd 1972 ,
resulting in the loss of sight in his right eye.
Banks, was born in Sheffield
1937 and grew to become not only England's World Cup winning keeper in
1966, but was acknowledged and later officially crowned as the World's
Best Goalkeeper in the 1970 World Cup Tournament in Mexico.
Yet the story could have been
so much different. Although Banks had played for both his school team,
Tinsley County Secondary Modern and Sheffield boys in goal, through his
own admission he'd not given serious thought to becoming a professional
On leaving school he became a
coalman's mate, bagging and delivering coal for a living, though found the
work physically exhausting and later became an apprentice bricklayer.
Bank's return to football and
the first steps to glory was indeed pure chance, having gone to watch a
local team Millspaugh play, he was asked to play when the Millspaugh
keeper failed to appear. Having joined up with Millspaugh, less than a
year later Banks was signed by Romarsh, who played in a much higher
standard league. And there once again the story might have ended.
In his first match Romarsh
lost 12-2, to be quickly followed by a 3-1 defeat. Two appearances and two
defeats, Romarsh sent him packing. Rebuffed and his pride hurt Banks
returned to play for his former club Millspaugh, where eventually his
ability was spotted by a scout from Chesterfield of the then Third
Banks, signed part-time pro
forms for Chesterfield in 1955 for the princely wage of £2 a match. The
following year,1956 with the help of Banks, Chesterfield reached the FA
Youth Cup Final, which at the time was a very prestigious tournament. In
front of a crowd of 32,000 at Old Trafford, Chesterfield eventually lost
out to the Manchester United team including Bobby Charlton that was to
develop into the Busby Babes.
His career was then put on
hold for two years whilst he served his national service in the Royal
Signals based in Germany, where he met his wife Ursula. On completion of
his service Banks returned to rejoin Chesterfield on £17 a week and played
23 league games times for the Spireites.
Banks though was beginning to
attract the attention of several league clubs and joined Leicester City
for £7,000 in May 1959.In his second season at the club he helped
Leicester reach the FA Cup final, but lost to Tottenham Hotspur at
Wembley, as Spurs went on to complete the league and Cup double.
There was further
disappointment for Banks and Leicester in 1963,when again Leicester
reached the FA Cup final, this time to lose out to Manchester United. But
the first taste of club success was just around the corner, as the
following year Leicester lifted the League Cup ironically by beating Stoke
over two games.
this time, Banks was established in the England team, having made his
international debut under Alf Ramsey ( later to become Sir Alf ) at
Wembley on the 6th April 1963 against the old enemy, Scotland.
The game against the Scots was
Ramsey's 2nd game in charge and the first to played at Wembley since the
construction of a new £500,000 roof that swept around the ground. Having
lost the previous game heavily 5-2 to France in Paris, Ramsey chose Banks
ahead of Ron Springett in the England goal. However, two goals by Jim
Baxter for Scotland, one a penalty helped ensure it was Scotland who
trooped off happy with a 2-1 victory not Banks and his England
Indeed following a 1-1 draw
with Brazil in his second game Banks had to wait for his third cap against
Czechoslovakia, a 4-2 victory, before he was to appear in a winning
A record of 1 win, 1 draw and
1 defeat with 5 goals conceded in his first 3 internationals was a fair
start to an international career that was to eventually read :
Although Banks played in many
important games amongst those 73 appearances, with none more so than the
1966 World Cup Final victory ,against West Germany at Wembley, Banks
himself picks out the semi-final against Portugal as his No.1 classic
game. England had reached the semi final stage without Banks having
conceded a goal final. In his autobiography ' Banks of England' he wrote "
The football played at Wembley that evening has never in my experience
Following the 4-2 victory
against the Germans in the final, Banks returned to his club side
Leicester and on to the next stage of his career as within 10 months of
that World Cup victory the ' Greatest keeper in the World ' was put on the
transfer list to make way for a raising star Peter Shilton .
Clubs lined up keen on signing
Banks, including West Ham who'd been given first option to buy him sign
him, but their manager Ron Greenwood had already started negotiations to
sign Bobby Ferguson from Kilmarnock for £65,000 a then world record fee
for a goalkeeper, Liverpool's Bill Shankly was also very interested
,though the size of the fee appears to have been the stumbling block with
the Liverpool board. It was Stoke City's Tony Waddington, famous for his
eye for a bargain and judgment in the transfer market that moved
decisively to sign Banks whilst others dithered.
Banks signed for Stoke in
April 1967 for £52,000 - at the time the value of a goal keeper to a team
was just beginning to be recognised and transfer fees just starting to
spiral, but it was still a ludicrously low fee for the greatest keeper in
the world and a magnificent testament to Tony Waddington and the Stoke
Board of the day who backed his judgement.
Bank's first international
game as a Stoke player came in the 3-0 demolition of Wales in Cardiff,
though with the scores at 0-0 banks made a save from his Stoke team mate
Roy Vernon, that he rates amongst the best of his career. Vernon connected
with a deflected ball just seven yards out, a certain goal or so it
seemed, but Banks somehow managed to fist the ball away.
Bank's fiftieth cap came in
the 4-1 victory against the Old enemy Scotland at Wembley in May
1969,though sadly whilst away preparing for his next cap against Mexico in
England's South American tour, he learnt of his father's death and
returned to England for the funeral, though later rejoined the tour.
In 1970 England with Banks
firmly established in goal headed off to Mexico to defend their world
crown. England won their opening game against Romania 1-0.In the second
group game they played Brazil in a match rightly labelled a classic,
remembered for the contest between Moore and Pele - and for a save by
Banks that has rightly been hailed as the greatest ever save.
Banks had gone into the game
knowing he'd been honoured by Buckingham Palace with the awarding of the
OBE and produced a stunning performance. The greatest save...shown so many
times on television and even depicted on clothing started when the
Brazilian winger Jairzinho put over a dipping cross from Bank's left to
the far post to the incoming Pele who like a salmon rose to power the ball
downwards low into the bottom right hand corner of the goal for a certain
goal, at the same time Banks had moved quickly with amazing speed and
agility from his left hand post and dived fall length, as the ball zipped
through the thin Mexican air and bounced immediately in front of Banks, as
the greatest player the world has ever known, Pele shouted goal, Banks
with a half twist of his body, flicked the ball one handed with his right
outstretched right hand over the cross bar.
The Brazilian ace was later to
tell everyone that it was the greatest save he'd ever seen.
That it was made in the World
Cup finals, against the famous 1970 pure football playing and soon to to
crowned World Champions Brazil, from Pele, in the rarefied Mexican air,
where the ball notoriously travels much quicker and is therefore much more
difficult for goalkeepers to judge and reach are just a few of the reasons
that make it the greatest save ever, but it should also be remembered the
amount of ground Banks had to cover to make the save, if you're ever in
doubt of the quality of the save play at normal speed ,then slow motion
,then normal speed again and then finally freeze the frame at the moment
Banks comes into contact with the Ball and you'll have no doubts of the
quality and pedigree of the save.
England actually lost the
game, but the save and Moore's contest with Pele rightly out shine the
result especially as England qualified for the next stage by beating
Czechoslovakia 1-0.In the next round England famously went out to old
rivals West Germany 3-2 after leading by two goals to nil, with Peter
Bonetti playing in goal for England after Banks had been taken ill.
1972 success again arrived for Banks, this time at club level when he
helped Stoke to victory in the League Cup at Wembley, Banks having saved a
penalty from Geoff Hurst in the last minute of the semi final second leg
against West Ham. Indeed Stoke also went on to reach the semi final of the
F.A Cup that year to as they had done the previous season , losing out to
Arsenal on both occasions.
The 72 season culminated in
Banks being voted ' Footballer of the Year ' - the first keeper to receive
the honour since his Bert Trautman had won it in 1956.And had been the
subject of television's ' This is your life Programme' , Banks and indeed
Stoke seemed set for further glory.
Within seven months of that
Wembley victory Bank's career lay in ruins - On Sunday 22nd October Banks
was returning home from the Victoria ground having received treatment
after the 2-1 defeat at Liverpool the previous day when he was involved in
a traffic accident that resulted in him losing the sight in his right eye.
Such was his standing that television programmes were interrupted to bring
news of the crash.
Banks battled to regain full
fitness including games in America with Fort Lauderdale , but sadly it was
to be in vain and Banks never played for Stoke in a competitive game
He'd played 510 league
games,194 of them for Stoke and had won 36 international caps whilst at
Stoke, just one fewer than when at Leicester.
Banks has since been made
president of Stoke City, a fitting honour for the clubs and indeed the
worlds greatest keeper.
In February 2006 it was
announced Gordon was to receive an Honorary Degree from Keele University
on February 17 for his outstanding contribution to sport and Charity
work...in raising funds for Children's Wards at local hospitals
Video of Gordon receiving his
degree, includes the footage of the 1970 World Cup save from Pele (from