Football: Legendary England goalkeeper Gordon Banks dies, aged 81

Banks with Brazilian great, Pele.
Banks with Brazilian great, Pele. Photo credit: Getty

England's World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks has died at the age of 81, his family has announced.

Banks, who revealed in 2016 that he was battling kidney cancer for the second time, died peacefully overnight.

A statement issued by former club Stoke on the Banks family's behalf said: "It is with great sadness that we announce that Gordon passed away peacefully overnight.

"We are devastated to lose him but we have so many happy memories and could not have been more proud of him.

"We would ask that the privacy of the family is respected at this time."

Banks made 510 league appearances for Chesterfield, Leicester - with whom he won the League Cup in 1964 - and Stoke before retiring from the professional game at the age of 34 following a road accident which cost him the sight in his right eye, although he later returned briefly to the sport in America.

But it was on the international stage that he established himself as a star, making his England debut in a 2-1 defeat by Scotland at Wembley in April 1963 and going on to win 73 senior caps, most famously in the 4-2 World Cup final victory over West Germany in 1966.

However, he will probably be best remembered for his heroics in Mexico four years later when he made the logic-defying save which was to define his career when he somehow managed to turn Brazil star Pele's header over the crossbar.

Sir Bobby Charlton, a teammate of Banks in the 1966 World Cup triumph, said on Manchester United's Twitter account: "Gordon was a fantastic goalkeeper and I was proud to call him a team-mate.

"He will be deeply missed and our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time."

Sir Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat-trick against West Germany in the 1966 final, said: "Very sad to hear the news that Gordon has died.

"One of the very greatest. Thinking especially of Ursula, Julia, Wendy and Robert. Sad for football, Stoke City and for England fans. Will be very sadly missed."

England manager Gareth Southgate said on the Football Association website: "I am deeply saddened to hear of Gordon's passing.

"An all-time great for England, I was privileged enough to be in his company on a number of occasions.

"It was particularly special to be with him at a Football Writers' tribute dinner last year and wish him well on his 80th birthday.

"Gordon spoke to the room about that incredible save from Pele against Brazil back in 1970 and moments like that from his remarkable World Cup-winning career will continue to linger long in the memory.

"On behalf of everyone connected with England, I send my condolences to his wife Ursula, his family and friends."

Ex-England striker Michael Owen tweeted: "Sad to hear that Gordon Banks has passed away at the age of 81. Had the pleasure of meeting him a number of times and he was one of the game's true gentlemen, not to mention one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. Rest In Peace."

Peter Shilton, who followed Banks as England number one, tweeted: "I'm devastated - today I've lost my hero our condolences to his family rip Gordon."

The Germany football team's Twitter account posted an image of Banks embracing opposition players on the Wembley pitch in 1966.

"A fierce opponent and a good man. Rest in peace, Gordon Banks," they tweeted.

PA