‘A blue phantom, a goalkeeper with magic’ – Pelé pays tribute to Sheffield-born football legend Gordon Banks

Football legend Pelé has added his tribute to Sheffield-born Gordon Banks, who has died aged 81, describing him as a ‘goalkeeper with magic’.

Tuesday, 12th February 2019, 14:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th February 2019, 14:45 pm

The Tinsley-born star had been suffering from kidney cancer and his family announced today that the world cup winner had ‘passed away peacefully overnight’. 

Gordon Banks, left, and Pele. Picture: Clive Mason/ALLSPORT

He is regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, making one of the game’s best saves to prevent a Pelé goal in the 1970 World Cup. 

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The Brazilian legend has now paid tribute to Banks, and revealed their long friendship all started with that iconic sporting moment. 

In a lengthy Facebook post, the former striker said: “For many people, their memory of Gordon Banks is defined by the save he made against me in 1970. I understand why.

“The save was one of the best I have ever seen - in real life and in all the thousands of games I have watched since.

“When you are a footballer, you know straight away how well you have hit the ball. I hit that header exactly as I had hoped. Exactly where I wanted it to go. And I was ready to celebrate.

“But then this man, Banks, appeared in my sight, like a kind of blue phantom, is how I described him. He came from nowhere and he did something I didn't feel was possible.

“He pushed my header, somehow, up and over. And I couldn't believe what I saw. Even now when I watch it l, I can't believe it. I can't believe how he moved so far, so fast.”

He added that despite all of his achievements, including winning three world cups, the thing people ask him about most is the Banks save.

Pelé went on to describe his friend as a ‘kind and warm man who gave so much to people.’

He said: “I am glad he saved my header - because that act was the start of a friendship between us that I will always treasure. Whenever we met, it was always like we had never been apart.

“I have great sadness in my heart today and I send condolences to the family he was so proud of. Rest in peace, my friend. Yes, you were a goalkeeper with magic. But you were also so much more. You were a fine human being.” 

Banks made 628 appearances during a 15-year career in the football league and won 73 caps for England. 

He was named FIFA’s  goalkeeper of the year on six occasions and was part of the Three Lions team that won the 1966 World Cup.