Gordon Banks, England’s goalie in ’66, made his debut on this day.
Gordon Banks was such a safe goalkeeper that they called him ‘The Banks of England’.
On this day in 1963, roughly four years after he had joined top-division Leicester City from Chesterfield, Alf Ramsey gave him his England debut against Scotland at Wembley.
Banks was 25 years old then and he went on to appear 73 times for his country. He was a World Cup winner in 1966, playing in all six matches of the tournament, and was still England’s first-choice ‘keeper for the Mexico Finals four years later.
He made an ‘impossible’ save from Brazil’s Pele in Guadalajara that may have been the best in history – but he missed the quarter-final with West Germany through illness.
He appeared in two FA Cup Finals for Leicester, losing both, before a fee of £52,000 (huge for a goalkeeper) took him to Stoke City. He won the League Cup with the Potters in 1972 but a year later an eye injury sustained in a road accident forced him to retire from League football. However, he was still good enough to play for Fort Lauderdale in the North American Soccer League.
One of England’s greatest ‘keepers – maybe the greatest – kept seven clean sheets in a row and played in 23 consecutive internationals without defeat. Apparently he did fumble a long shot from East Germany’s Peter Ducke in 1963, the 500th goal conceded by England, but that was a very rare mistake. He’ll certainly be remembered for that Pele save, a tribute to two World Cup superstars.