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Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton has paid tribute to his World Cup-winning team-mate Gordon Banks, following the sad news that the former England goalkeeper has passed away at the age of 81.
Sir Bobby told us:
“Lady Norma and I are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Gordon Banks.
“Gordon was a fantastic goalkeeper, without doubt one of the best England has ever had.
“I was proud to call him a team-mate. Obviously we shared that great day in 1966 but it was more than that.
“Gordon will be deeply missed and our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”
Charlton and Banks join their England team-mate Roger Hunt in a game of cards.
Like Charlton, Banks was one of the English footballers renowned around the globe, after helping the national team to lift the Jules Rimet trophy in 1966 and defend it as far as the quarter-final in Mexico four years later.
His save to prevent Pele scoring for Brazil with a point-blank header is regarded as one of the greatest ever.
“Even though I was on the pitch and have seen it many times since, I still don’t know how he saved that header from Pele,”
added Sir Bobby.
Safe hands – Banks thwarts United’s Denis Law by claiming the ball in the 1963 FA Cup final.
In the domestic game, Banks started his career with Chesterfield, before signing for Leicester City – the team he faced United with in the 1963 FA Cup final, which Matt Busby’s team won 3-1.
Banks’ final English club – before spells in the United States, South America and Ireland – was Stoke City; the Potters hosted the Reds in his testimonial match in 1973, with Charlton and Portugal icon Eusebio guesting for the home side.