Gordon Banks

'The Greatest Goalkeeper Of His Era'

Leicester City Football Club Ambassador Alan 'The Birch' Birchenall has paid tribute to legendary former goalkeeper Gordon Banks OBE, who has passed away at the age of 81.
More on this story...

- Leicester City legend Gordon Banks passed away at the age of 81 on Tuesday
- Banks was ever-present for England during their FIFA World Cup triumph in 1966
- The legendary goalkeeper helped City lift the League Cup in 1964
- Alan Birchenall has paid a personal tribute to one of the Club's best-ever players

Banks, who received 37 of his 73 England caps during his eight years at Filbert Street between 1959 and 1967, is the only Leicester City player to have won the FIFA World Cup while with the Football Club.

The iconic goalkeeper, a part of City’s famous ‘Ice Kings’ side who challenged for the First Division title in 1962/63, made 293 appearances for the Foxes, during which he lifted the League Cup in 1964.

However, his ever-present role in England's 1966 World Cup triumph is what Banks will be most fondly remembered for, alongside his miraculous save to deny Pele in a fixture against Brazil at the 1970 tournament. 

He would stand for hours with supporters because he was that kind of person – approachable and humble.

Alan 'The Birch' Birchenall

"It’s very sad to hear about Gordon’s passing and my thoughts go out to all of his many family and friends at this painful time," the Birch said on Tuesday.

"For me, Gordon was not only a great goalkeeper, but maybe the greatest goalkeeper of his era.

"I had the privilege of becoming good friends with him over the years because we are from the same era and he was an opponent of mine on many occasions.

"He was the great Gordon Banks but he was also such a humble and lovely person.

"He would stand for hours with supporters because he was that kind of person – approachable and humble."

Discussing the individual qualities which have seen Banks go down as one of the best goalkeepers in football history, the Birch added: "For me, at the time I played, he was the world’s greatest goalkeeper.

Expand photo
The Ice Kings & The Birch
The Ice Kings & The Birch

In 2013, the Birch hosted the Club's 'Ice Kings' squad, including Gordon Banks, at King Power Stadium.

"I can’t speak about other eras, but he must be one of, if not the, greatest goalkeeper of all time. His agility was incredible.

"I can picture him now making the most unbelievable saves and on a few occasions when I played against him, he was the difference. He must have been worth 20 or 30 points a season.

"You’ll see lots of clips about the save from Pele, but he made those kind of saves all the time.

We’re so proud to have had such an incredible player and wonderful person play for our club.

Alan 'The Birch' Birchenall

"He was incredible and we were lucky to have had him here at Leicester City Football Club. He had left by the time I arrived, but when you’re as good as he was and achieve what he did, you leave a legacy wherever you go.

"He’s certainly done that at Leicester City and it’s one that will last forever. We’re so proud to have had such an incredible player and wonderful person play for our club."

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