Everyone at Exclusive Memorabilia is extremely saddened to hear that Gordon Banks OBE passed away on Monday night at the age of 81. We were lucky enough to meet and work with the English legend on many occasions. He was a true gentleman and an excellent representation of the game.
Gordon was born in Sheffield on December 30th, 1937. In 1958, he made his professional debut with Chesterfield where he had played in the youth team for the previous 5 years. Gordon was then sold onto Leicester City in 1959, where he went on to play 293 times for the club and win the League cup.
In 1963 Gordon made his international debut with England against Scotland. After he impressed new manager Alf Ramsey, Gordon became first choice goalkeeper for England as the team looked towards the next World Cup. The 1966 World Cup was a defining tournament for Gordon and his fellow English team mates. The team made it through to the semi-final easily, with Banks not conceding a single goal in any of the games. In the semi-final, panic struck as no one had bought any chewing gum (which Gordon used to make his hands stickier and help him handle the ball better), but luckily some was purchased from a nearby vendor while the teams were preparing to come out of the tunnel. After beating Portugal 2-1 in the semi-final, England were set to play West Germany in the final. With a goal from Martin Peters and a hat-trick from Geoff Hurst, England and Gordon lifted the World Cup trophy for the first and only time.
Gordon is best known for making “The Greatest Save” in the 1970 World Cup against Pele, when England played Brazil. Pele’s header towards the top right-hand corner of the goal was so powerful and precise that Pele himself shouted “Gol!” as it struck towards the goal. However, Gordon reacted perfectly and sent the “impossible to catch” ball over the bar with his right hand. Gordon didn’t realise that he saved the ball from going in until he saw Pele’s reaction, who then said, “I thought that was a goal.” Many people describe the save as the greatest of all time.
Gordon was named FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year every single year between 1966 and 1971. During his 73 international games for his country, Gordon kept 35 clean sheets and only lost 9 games. He played his last international game in 1972 after which he lost the sight in his right eye, caused by a car crash incident. In 2002, Gordon was an inaugural inductee to the English Football Hall of Fame.
Gordon Banks OBE 1937-2019.