Brazil legend Pele has paid tribute to the late England goalkeeper Gordon Banks, citing his experience of “one of the best saves” he has ever seen.
Banks, a World Cup winner with England in 1966, “passed away peacefully overnight” aged 81, his family said in a statement on Tuesday morning.
The former England, Stoke and Leicester ‘keeper is widely-known for his remarkable save to deny Brazil legend Pele at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.
— BenchWarmers (@BeWarmers) February 12, 2019
In a Facebook post, cited on Sky Pele 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: ‘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.
“I scored so many goals in my life, but many people, when they meet me, always ask me about that save. While it was indeed phenomenal, my memory of Gordon is not defined by that – it is defined by his friendship. He was a kind and warm man who gave so much to people. ready to celebrate.
Goalkeeping has changed a lot since Gordon and I played. But if he were playing today, he would still be one of the very best. Rest in peace, my friend. https://t.co/NYDiEzY6VZ pic.twitter.com/EOYmMKbgPH
— Pelé (@Pele) February 12, 2019
“So 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.”