England World Cup-winning ‘keeper Gordon Banks dies

Gordon Banks, whose club playing career revolved largely around Stoke and Leicester City, is the latest of the 1966 World Cup winning England team to pass away. (Reuters)
Updated 12 February 2019
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England World Cup-winning ‘keeper Gordon Banks dies

  • Banks, who played in every game of the 1966 campaign on home soil, is probably best known for a wonder save he produced to deny Brazilian great Pele in the 1970 World Cup
  • Pele — who would go on to lift the trophy — admitted later he had said ‘gol’, so sure was he that the ball was heading into the net

LONDON: Gordon Banks, England’s goalkeeper during their triumphant 1966 World Cup campaign, has died aged 81, his former club Stoke City announced on Tuesday.
His family said the 73-times capped Banks, who lost an eye in a car crash in 1972, had passed away in his sleep.
“It is with great sadness that we announce that Gordon passed away peacefully overnight,” his family said.
“We are devastated to lose him but we have so many happy memories and could not have been more proud of him.”
Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat-trick in the 4-2 win over West Germany in the World Cup final at Wembley, tweeted a fulsome tribute to his former team-mate.
“Very sad to hear the news that Gordon has died. One of the very greatest,” tweeted 77-year-old Hurst.
Banks, who played in every game of the 1966 campaign on home soil, is probably best known for a wonder save he produced to deny Brazilian great Pele in the 1970 World Cup group match.
“Once I got my hand to it I hadn’t a clue where it was going,” he modestly said afterwards.
Pele — who would go on to lift the trophy — admitted later he had said ‘gol’, so sure was he that the ball was heading into the net. Brazil still won the game 1-0.

However, Banks later recounted that he did not appreciate the remark made by one of his team-mates that day, midfielder Alan Mullery.
“I patted him on his head, and I said ‘why didn’t you catch it?’ and the abuse that came back was unbelievable,” said Mullery.
Mullery said Banks was probably the best goalkeeper he had played with or against.
“He was the best at that time. We had some great goalkeepers in those days, and the only person I can think came near was Pat Jennings,” said Mullery.
“He was absolutely marvellous goalkeeper. He was a likeable man, and when it came to business, he was probably the best there has ever been.”
Banks, whose club playing career revolved largely around Stoke and Leicester City, is the latest of the 1966 team to pass away.
Captain Bobby Moore, the baby of the team Alan Ball and Ray Wilson preceded him while several such as Nobby Stiles and Martin Peters suffer from Alzheimer’s.
Another former Leicester and England legend Gary Lineker — albeit from a later generation — also tweeted his appreciation of Banks, whose sole trophies at club level were two League Cups, one piece with Stoke and Leicester.
“Oh no. Gordon Banks, an absolute hero of mine, and countless others, has died,” tweeted Lineker.
“@England’s World Cup winner was one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, and such a lovely, lovely man. #RIPGordon.”
Stoke City chairman Peter Coates said Banks — who played 250 times for The Potters after he joined from Leicester in 1967 — had not been in good health for several weeks.
“We’ve been expecting his, he has been poorly for a number of weeks but it’s a very sad day for us, we love him so much,” said Coates.
“He made his home in Stoke, and was very much part of the fabric of the club. You don’t get too many like him, and he was immensely modest for all talent.
“He told me when they walked out at Wembley for the final, and he had goose-bumps, he had never seen anything like it.”


WHAT WE LEARNED: Dominant defences, sloppy City and simple Serie A

Updated 21 February 2019
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WHAT WE LEARNED: Dominant defences, sloppy City and simple Serie A

  • Defences dominated free-scoring attacks on Tuesday.
  • Juventus finding life far more tough in Europe than at home.

All the Champions League second round first-leg matches are done and dusted so what better time to look back at the latest clashes and reveal what we learned from the titanic tussles…

DEFENCE BACK IN VOGUE

Who would have predicted that Tuesday night’s two clashes would return the miserly total of zero goals? If you say yes, there is a good chance you are either lying or able to see into the future. Liverpool (minus Virgil van Djik), Bayern Munich and Barcelona are all much better going forward than trying to keep a cleansheet and goals were surely guaranteed. But in both matches — Liverpool at home to Bayern, and Barca away at Lyon — the backlines held firm and Bayern’s performance in particular illustrated a defensive discipline that has been deemed out of fashion the past few seasons. The fullbacks Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba rarely went beyond the halfway line and Mats Hummels was immense in the middle. Likewise the Reds without their defensive rock also looked resolute and solid with their makeshift backline. Over the past few years the top teams, especially in Europe, have generally thrown caution to the wind. Tuesday’s matches were a bit of a throwback, but no less entertaining or enthralling for it.

The disciplined performance of David Alaba typified Bayern's match at Liverpool. (AFP) 

JUVE FINDING SERIE TOO EASY?

The Turin club are once again strolling toward another domestic title. They are unbeaten and a mammoth 13 points ahead of second-placed Napoli, their eighth consecutive title is all but assured. In Europe, however, it is a different story as Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid illustrated. Already this season they have lost three of their seven Champions League matches and on now face a huge task to overturn the deficit in Turin on March 12. In four full seasons at Juventus, Massimiliano Allegri has led his team to four successive league and cup doubles and two Champions League finals. But he was out-thought by Atletico counterpart Diego Simeone. Of the result the Juve boss simply said “these things happen” but added: ““They are more used playing games of this type than us” a tacit admission that the Spaniards face tougher games in La Liga than Juve do while strolling to wins week after week in Italy.

Ronaldo and Juve are coasting to yet another Serie A title but it's a different story in the Champions League. (AFP) 

CITY’S INCONSISTENCY CLEAR TO SEE

Before the turn of the year Manchester City lost in the Premier League to Crystal Palace and Leicester City and followed that up in January with a shock loss at Newcastle. For the first time in 18 months, domestically at least, you could no longer assume the Abu Dhabi-owned club would turn up, strut their stuff and claim an easy victory. In Europe so far this season they have only lost once in seven matches, on the face of it no problem. But the defeat at Lyon before the new year has been followed up with Wednesday’s last-gasp 3-2 win at Schalke, again, on the face of it OK, but worrying signs are there. The German outfit may lie 14th in the Bundesliga but for long periods looked more than a match for Pep Guardiola’s side — albeit one down to 10 men from the 69th minute. City could well win the second-leg in a similar manner to their 6-0 win over Chelsea in the league, but this match as much as anything will have perfectionist Guardiola worried. It was not for nothing that he said after the win: “we are still not ready to fight for the latter stages.”

City found the going tough against a resolute Schalke. (AFP)