Gordon Banks

Leicester City In 100 Players: Gordon Banks

Our series continues with World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks OBE, who played 356 times for the Club between 1959 and 1967.
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Sheffield-born Gordon signed for Leicester City for £7,000 in May 1959, following half a season in Chesterfield’s first team after he had completed his National Service in the army. Gordon soon established himself in Leicester City’s team, which in his first season, finished a respectable 12th in the old First Division. 

In 1960/61, the Foxes finished sixth in the top flight and reached the FA Cup Final when the team, playing with 10 effective men for most the game, lost to league champions Tottenham Hotspur. Four months later, Gordon competed in City’s European Cup Winners’ Cup campaign, losing to Atlético Madrid.

The following season, 1962/63, City rose to fourth in the top flight and Gordon’s goalkeeping exploits (notably an outstanding display in the semi-final victory over Liverpool) helped Leicester to reach the FA Cup showpiece against Manchester United. Despite being firm favourites, Leicester lost 3-1. 

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Gordon Banks
Gordon Banks

Gordon Banks toasts England's World Cup triumph with his team-mates in 1966.

A month earlier, Gordon won the first of the 37 England caps he won while at Filbert Street. In the next two seasons, Gordon, who was by now well established as England’s regular goalkeeper, won the League Cup with the Club in 1964 and was a losing finalist in 1965. 

The 1965/66 season began with Gordon breaking his wrist, but it ended gloriously for the City goalkeeper when he was part of England’s famous World Cup winning team. Nine months later, it came as a great shock when the Club decided to sell him to Stoke City to make way for 17-year-old Peter Shilton. 

At Stoke, Gordon’s England career continued to thrive. The highlight was the ‘save of the century’ against Pelé in the 1970 World Cup Finals in Mexico. 

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Gordon Banks
Gordon Banks

This save to deny Brazil superstar Pelé is regarded as one of the best-ever stops in football history.

Early the following season, he lost an eye following a car accident, but in 1977, he went to play in the USA for the NASL team Fort Lauderdale Strikers, where he was voted the league’s best goalkeeper. 

In 1995, Leicester City granted Gordon a testimonial match at Filbert Street to acknowledge his achievements in the game. He won 73 England caps, was named the FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year six times, was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame, was named in the FIFA list of 100 greatest players and was also included in the PFA Team of the Century. 

Sadly, Gordon died, aged 81, in February 2019. 

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