‘England’s number one’ – Hundreds turn out for funeral of Sheffield World Cup legend Gordon Banks

Hundreds of football fans joined former and current greats of the game to pay tribute to Sheffield World Cup winner Gordon Banks at his funeral on Monday.

Monday, 4th March 2019, 2:17 pm
Updated Monday, 4th March 2019, 2:22 pm
The Funeral procession arrives at the funeral service for Gordon Banks at Stoke Minster. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire

The former England goalkeeper died, aged 81, on February 12 was laid to rest following a service at Stoke Minster.

A five-car funeral cortege passed through Stoke City’s bet365 stadium, stopping at the pitchside dugout for a few minutes, to sustained applause from the assembled crowd.

The Funeral procession arrives at the funeral service for Gordon Banks at Stoke Minster. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire

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The various achievements of Banks, who also won the League Cup with Stoke and Leicester, were displayed on the big screen as a chant of ‘England's number one’ broke out among the hundreds of fans who had gathered there.

Sheffield-born Banks made nearly 200 appearances for Stoke and a statue erected in his honour, holding the Jules Rimet trophy aloft, was decorated with several Stoke and England scarves.

The ground was adorned with shirts, flags and even the odd pair of goalkeeping gloves in tribute to one of the city's favourite adopted sons.

Members of the public applaud as the Gordon Banks funeral cortege passes by the bet365 Stadium, Stoke. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire.

Jack Butland, Joe Anyon and Kasper Schmeichel – the current number ones at the three English clubs Banks played for: Stoke, Chesterfield and Leicester – as well as England stalwart Joe Hart served as pallbearers.

On the 47th anniversary of Stoke's League Cup triumph, Banks' funeral started with a rendition of Abide with Me – a hymn synonymous with the FA Cup final.

Sir Geoff Hurst was among the attendees and delivered a moving eulogy in which he referred to his World Cup-winning team-mate as ‘a superstar on the field, (but) off the field he was an ordinary guy with no airs or graces.’

Stoke City fans, players and staff applaud as the Gordon Banks funeral cortege passes through the bet365 Stadium, Stoke. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

He added: “He was a joker, a funny man, for over 50 years and every time we met during our careers or years after he would come up and joke.

"Banksy, rest in peace. We love you and we miss you."

Hurst started his eulogy by jokingly referencing his penalty that was saved by Banks in the League Cup semi-final between Stoke and West Ham, who were beaten after a replay.

Hurst said: "Gordon Banks OBE contributed to the worst moment of my footballing career.

Mourners watch the funeral service for Gordon Banks on the big screens at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

"We often joke privately and publicly about the save from Pele (in the 1970 World Cup) but the most important save was the one that got them through (in the League Cup).

"The save against Pele wasn't as important - we lost the game and we still qualified for the later stages of the World Cup."

As well as Hurst, Bobby and Jack Charlton - both of whom started alongside Banks in the 1966 World Cup final win over Germany at Wembley - were among the attending mourners.

Born in Tinsley, Banks later moved to Catcliffe and began his career with Sheffield Schoolboys before moving to Chesterfield in March 1953.

He was regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, receiving his crowning role in England’s historic World Cup triumph in 1966, while on Leicester’s books.

Four years later, his worldwide fame rocketed again thanks to his so-called `save of the century’ to deny Pele and Brazil in the 1970 finals. 

Gordon Banks jumps to make a save for England against Hungary at Wembley in 1965.

The Tinsley-born star revealed in December 2015 that he was suffering from kidney cancer but continued to make personal appearances since his diagnosis.

He made 628 appearances during a 15-year career in the Football League, and won 73 caps for his country.

Banks was named FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year on six occasions. His career was ended in 1972 when a car crash cost him his sight in one eye.

Gordon Banks.