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Happy Birthday Mr. Banks, one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time turns 80

DATE: 31.12.2017 - SOCCERVOICE - NEWS - SEASON 2017-18

On the 30th of December one of footballs best goalkeepers of all time turned 80, the only English goalkeeper ever to have won and played in a World Cup final

His story in football is like to another Sheffield born player, Jamie Vardy, who both made their names in football with Leicester City. Banks never got the chance at either Sheffield United or Sheffield Wednesday and turned professional with neighbour club Chesterfield.

He had earlier showed talent for Sheffield Schoolboys and was playing at a younger age for amatuer team Millspaugh FC. He made great progress at Chesterfield and was spotted by Leicester City who decided to use 7 000 to sign him in July 1959.

At Leicester he was looked up on as a future first team goalkeeper replacing the established number one, Johnny Anderson. But things progressed fast and Banks established himself in the first team as the first choice, with Anderson leaving to play for Peterborough.

The Banks effect was there to see as Leicester established themselves as a top team under the management of Matt Gillies. The first sign of greatness came in 1961, when Leicester reached the FA Cup final.

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The were back in the same final in 1962-63, but again ending as runners-up after being defeated by Manchester United. Banks had by then also made his England debut. City are doing well in English football winning The League Cup in 1963-64 and ending runners-up in the same competition a year later.

The World Cup is coming up and Banks is a certain first choice for England. We all know the Boys of 66 and all that, but at Leicester things are not the same and Matt Gillies makes a strange decission to let Banks leave for Stoke, saying the best years of Banks are gone.

Peter Shilton takes over in goal at Leicester and the teenager is progressing, but Banks never looks back and are still rated among the best early in his 30's. Yashin is a close contender to the title of being the best goalkeeper in the World.

Banks never looks back and at Stoke he is together with a number of other "old stars" such as George Eastham, Peter Dobing helping the team to progress with other youngsters such as Denis Smith, Mike Bernard and Jimmy Greenhoff flourishing.

When the 1970 World Cup arrives, Banks is still a certainty in the England goal, and a save against Brazil in the early stages of the competition will for always give the England number one a place in the history books. The save from Pele's header will never be forgotten.

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A car accident in October 1972 makes in impossible to return to Stoke City after Banks lost sight on one eye. He retires, but five years later decides to join NASL team Fort Lauderdale Strikers and makes a fantastic comeback in goal.

Despite being blinded on one eye, he only concedes 29 goals in 26 games, which is a record in the NASL, for that voted the best goalkeeper in the league. He continues to play for another season, and return to England.

After his retirement as a player and during the five years between his time at Stoke and Fort Lauderdale Banks was a coach at Stoke. After his return he worked for clubs such as Port Vale and Telford.

Banks was a guest of honour when the draw for the 2018 World Cup finals took place in Russia earlier this year.

Happy birthday to Gordon Banks, reaching 80. Jack Charlton (82), Bobby Charlton (80) and Ray Wilson (83) are other hero's of 66 who are now in their 80's, we wish them all the best, great heroes.

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