First noticed in Chesterfield’s unexpected progress to the FA Youth Cup final in 1956, the goalkeeping genious inevitably dubbed ‘Banks of England’ was only a decade later, a national hero for his significant role in his country’s World Cup win.
Still a rew youngster when Matt Gillies signed him for £7,000 after only 23 League games for the Spireites, Gordon developed qucikly at Filbert Street, basing his game on an uncanny sense of positioning and an acute appreciation of the value of solidity over the gratuitously spectacular, yet engendering supreme confidence amongst his defenders that he could call on superb reflexes and agility when required.
Gordon’s second Cup Final appearance for City in 1963 was the occasion of a very rare shaky performance, but he’d already broken Liverpool hearts almost single-handedly in the semi-final to book City’s Wembley ticket, and had also by then won the first of his 73 full England caps (37 earned while on City books). to add to two U.23 appearances and four Football League selections.
The rise to contention of Peter Shilton spelt a controversially premature end to Gordon’s Leicester City career, and when West Ham dropped their promised option on his transfer (honorably they had in the interim committed to buy Kilmarnock’s Bobby Ferguson), he moved to Stoke for £50 000.
His England career peeked again during the 1970 World Cup, when a reflex save from Pele’s header became TV’s most re-run piece of goalkeeping action ever, and the civil honor of an OBE followed. At club level, Gordon inspired Stoke to their first ever trophy, the League Cup (repeating his major City success for the team he’d helped beat in 1964), and earned himself accolade of 1972 Footballer of the Year, but his world was shattered that October when a car crash cost him the sigh of one eye. Adherence to his own high standards precluded a League comeback after recovery, but stints coaching at Stoke and Port Vale and a spell as manager for Telford United, bracketed return to playing in the transatlantic NASL, where he was voted Goalkeeper of the Year, and a brief stint in Ireland.
Gordon, who returned to Filbert Street in 1986 as chairman of the club’s short lived ‘Lifeline’ fundraising operation, and has subsequently been involved in the corporate hospitality business, was the beneficiary of a well attended testimonial game at Filbert Street in 1995, and a suite at the Filbert Street stadium was named in his name.
In 2002 “Banksy, my autobiography” was released, a book of the life of Gordon Banks. A number of others books has also seen the shelves, in 2013 “Gordon Banks, The Biography” came out and another book to recomend is “A hero who could fly“, a must read. Banks has over the years been seen given interviews, especially in front of World Cup’s, since he still is the only English goalkeeper to ever have won the competition. He was seen on the podium in Moscow for the 2018 World Cup draws, and in 2012 he ran with the Olympic Torch in his honoring lap in front of the London Olympics.
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