Gordon exits: Legendary England World Cup winner passes away, aged 81.

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Regarded as one of the game’s greatest in his position, Banks was named FIFA goalkeeper of the year six times and earned 73 caps for England.

England’s World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks has died at the age of 81.

Banks passed away after a long illness, having been undergoing spells of chemotherapy in recent months.

He had been visited by a number of former teammates in recent weeks as his health deteriorated, but he passed peacefully, with his family at his bedside overnight.

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A statement released by his family via Stoke City confirmed: “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.”

Banks leaves behind wife Ursula and their three children, Julia, Robert and Wendy.

Regarded as one of the game’s greatest in his position, Banks was named FIFA goalkeeper of the year six times and earned 73 caps for England.

Image result for gordon banks

Born in Sheffield, Banks made 628 appearances during a 15-year career in the Football League, playing for Chesterfield, Leicester City and Stoke.

A League Cup winner with both the Foxes (1964) and the Potters (1972), Banks was the FWA Footballer of the Year in 1972, while also being named in FIFA’s World Cup All-Star Team in 1966, after playing a key role in the Three Lions success on home soil.

A national treasure, Banks was awarded an OBE in 1970 – the same year he made the so-called ‘save of the century’ to deny Brazil legend Pele at the World Cup in Mexico.

The legendary Brazilian’s downward header was improbably tipped over the bar by Banks’ miraculous diving stop, leading to a lifelong friendship between two of the game’s all-time greats, as well a wonderful on-field conversation between the pair and ex-England skipper Bobby Moore.

“I thought that was a goal,” declared Pele, as he congratulated Banks, who replied: “You and me both.”

“You’re getting old, Banksy, you used to hold on to them,” declared Moore, who died in 1993.

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Unfortunately, his top-level career was cut short in 1973 by a car accident the previous year that left him blind in one eye, although he did attempt to play on in the United States, featuring for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 1977.

His iconic status at Stoke City – for whom he became president in 2000 following the death of Sir Stanley Matthews – was marked by the unveiling of a bronze statue that stands proudly outside the Bet365 stadium.

Banks’ former England teammate Sir Geoff Hurst paid tribute on Twitter.

“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.”

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Gary Lineker said: “Oh no. Gordon Banks, an absolute hero of mine, and countless others, has died. @Englands World Cup winner was one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, and such a lovely, lovely man.”

Michael Owen also added: “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.”

Paul Gascoigne has labelled him “an incredible man, a really true gentleman RIP mate”.

Banks, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2015 and lived in the spectre of the disease until his death, sold his World Cup winners’ medal at auction for ¬£124,750 in 2001 and was an inaugural inductee in the English Football Hall of Fame the following year.


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