‘One of the very greatest’: England’s 1966 hero Sir Geoff Hurst leads tributes to World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks as he dies aged 81 after losing long battle with cancer
1966 World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks has died at the age of 81 after losing his battle with cancer.
The former Stoke and Leicester City goalkeeper was part of the famous England side whose heroics helped England lift the Jules Rimet trophy for the first and only time at Wembley 53 years ago this summer.
He is also remembered for his extraordinary tip over the bar from a Pele header in a match with Brazil at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, widely considered the greatest save of all time.
Banks passed away with family at his side after his health deteriorated significantly in recent weeks and he is survived by his wife Ursula, who he met on national service in Germany in 1955, and their three children Julia, Robert and Wendy.
England’s 1966 hero Sir Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat-trick in the final against West Germany, said today: ‘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’.
Mr Banks, who was controversially never handed a knighthood, endured several battles with kidney cancer for many years and in recent months had been undergoing gruelling spells of chemotherapy.
But despite regular visits from his England and Stoke City teammates he died this morning.
His family said in a statement today: ‘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’.
Legendary England 1966 World Cup winner Gordon Banks has passed away at the age of 81 after a battle with cancer
Banks is seen as the finest England goalkeeper ever as he played a key role in the 1966 success
Once a champion, always a champion 🦁🏆
He was one of the game’s greatest goalkeepers, a provider of stunning World Cup memories & a gentleman.
Our thoughts are with his family & friends. pic.twitter.com/tsD4c71Ixt
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup)
Pictured with wife Ursula in 2016, Banks lost battle with cancer after battling in recent years
Banks makes his famous spectacular save from a downward header by Pele in the 1970 World Cup group stages – widely considered the greatest save o
Banks watches on during a game in 1967. He played for Chesterfield, Leicester City, Stoke City and Fort Lauderdale Strikers
The goalkeeper’s death has sparked an outpouring of grief from the football world, his fans and his home town of Stoke-on-Trent, where he lived all his life and played 194 times for Stoke City as well as Leicester City before spells in Ireland and the US.
He became a footballing icon in England and around the world for his football career and incredible saves while playing for his country.
But in recent years he had fought cancer, finally losing his battle shortly after his 81st birthday.
Many of his old Stoke team-mates had been visiting him at his home in Madeley, Staffordshire, in the hope of inspiring one more recovery, but to no avail this time.
Stoke confirmed the news on Tuesday morning writing: ‘From the family of Gordon Banks. 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 makes a flying save while playing for Leicester in 1966. He represented the Foxes at the height of his career
Banks holds onto the ball during the 1966 World Cup Final. England beat West Germany 4-2 at Wembley to lift the trophy
Banks is regarded as the finest goalkeeper England have ever had as he became a cornerstone of England’s most successful period.
Four years after lifting the World Cup his worldwide fame rocketed again thanks to his so-called ‘save of the century’ to deny Pele and Brazil in the 1970 finals.
Banks rose through the ranks in his early years playing for Chesterfield and Leicester before joining Stoke in 1967 and he quickly became a key figure in the Potters side.
He won the League Cup with Stoke in 1972 but later that year saw his career cut short after a car accident left him blind in one eye.
Tributes soon flooded in when the news broke on Tuesday with former England striker Gary Lineker hailing Banks as his ‘hero’.
Banks carries the Olympic Torch in front of Wembley on July 25, 2012, two days before the start of the London 2012 Olympics
Lineker wrote: ‘Oh no. Gordon Banks, an absolute hero of mine, and countless others, has died. @England’s World Cup winner was one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, and such a lovely, lovely man. #RIPGordon’.
Manchester City and England star Raheem Sterling added: ‘Of course there was THAT save, but its so much more we are mourning today. RIP Gordon Banks. @England legend, your legacy will live on. All my thoughts with the family.’
His effect on the footballing world was huge and governing body FIFA hailed him as a champion: ‘Once a champion, always a champion.
‘We are deeply sorry to hear of the death of @England World Cup winner @thegordonbanks. He was one of the game’s greatest goalkeepers, a provider of stunning World Cup memories & a gentleman. Our thoughts are with his family & friends.’
More to follow.
Banks at home with his wife Ursula. They met when he was on national service in Germany in 1955, and have three sons
England’s 1966 World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks dies after losing long battle with cancer
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