Former Chelsea goalkeeping great Peter Bonetti dies, aged 78

Peter Bonetti
Peter Bonetti Photo credit: Getty

Former Chelsea and England goalkeeper Peter Bonetti has died at the age of 78 after a long battle with illness.

Nicknamed "The Cat" for his quick reflexes in goal, Bonetti made 729 appearances for the London club in two stints between 1960 and 1979 -- second on Chelsea's all-time appearances list behind former defender Ron Harris.

"Chelsea Football Club is hugely saddened to announce the passing today of one of our indisputably all-time great players, Peter Bonetti," the club said.

"Our former goalkeeper had been suffering from long-term illness. All at Chelsea wish to send our heartfelt and deepest condolences to Peter's family and friends."

Bonetti kept over 200 clean sheets for the club over two decades and he also made seven England appearances.

He was a back-up goalkeeper to Gordon Banks in the squad that won the 1966 World Cup, but he never played a match in the tournament.

However, he was blamed for the quarter-final loss at the 1970 World Cup when England, leading 2-0 in the second half, eventually lost 3-2.

He had come into the side after Banks pulled out due to food poisoning.

Bonetti in action for Chelsea in 1970
Bonetti in action for Chelsea in 1970 Photo credit: Getty

Following his retirement, he was a goalkeeping coach with England, Chelsea, Newcastle United, Fulham and Manchester City.

"Our thoughts go out to the friends and family of former City goalkeeping coach 

Peter Bonetti along with everyone at Chelsea FC following sad news of his passing," Manchester City said in a tweet.