It’s almost the case that however far back into Peter’s superb goalkeeping career one delves for perspective, one could have safely predicted the height it would reach. A schoolboy prodigy, his dedication to working on practice and psychology of his destined profession (and even on building the correct physique for it) was evident while he was helping Leicester Boys to their 1965 trophy win, and picking up his first international recognition with England Schools.
At Filbert Street there was precocious talent, and he became City’s youngest ever First Division debutant at 16 against cup winners to be Everton. Barely another year had elapsed before a queue of top clubs was forming, ready to snatch Peter (now an automatic choice for England Youth) from the Filbert Street shadow of Gordon Banks, and an unenviable choice soon faced Matt Gillies over which of his top-rank keepers to part with. He elected to invest in the younger man’s ability and ambition, and it was not too long before his judgement was substantiated by Peter’s assumption of Bank’s place in the international arena.
In the interim, City experience a Cup Final, a relegation and a promotion (with Peter’s shot stopping solidity, aerial agility, uncanny sense of positioning and absolute command of his area in large part responsible for the club creating it’s best ever defensive record during 1970/71, when he kept a record 23 clean sheets.
Rarely out of the public-eye – his adoption of an all-white playing kit and his long distance scoring success at Southampton at various times assuring that Peter was inevitably now adding full international momentos to his thirteen England U.23 caps, but also becoming less than enchanted at City’s trophy winning prospects, Jimmy Bloomfield accepted a £325,000 cheque from Stoke for the unsettled star, and the move ironically threatened to rebound Peter as the Potters themselves struggled, and he found himself only sharing the yellow jersey of England with Ray Clemence.
But when Stoke dropped into Division Two, Peter was the subject of a typically shrews bit of Brian Clough business, and in five years of almost uninterrupted success in domestic and European competitions with Forest, he once more re-established himself as the country’s undisrupted No.1. Maintaining his impeccable highly self-critical standards at The Dell (after another £325,000 move), Peter became the most capped England keeper of all time, skippering the national side on occasion and earning the civil honor of the MBE in 1986.
Then, following a final big money move to Baseball Ground, he set about craeting a further series of career landmarks, passing Terry Paine’s all time record for the highest number of League appearances with his 825th such game in April 1988, and overtaking Bobby Moore’s record haul of England caps with his 109th selection against Denmark in June 1989.
In July 1990, Peter finally retired form the international scene with a world record 125 caps to his name, bowing out at the very top of his profession. He was up-graded to an OBE in 1991, and later took the plunge into management. Initially successful as Plymouth Argyle’s player/manager (though content to sideline himself from action on a career total of 995 League appearances), Peter soon provided unable to juggle the pressures of a relegation scarp with those of his well-published personal financial difficulties, and resigned from Home Park in January 1995, after being suspended by the chairman, but not before giving his 16 year-old son Sam a League break.
He then signed on a non-contract basis as goalkeeping cover at Crystal Palace, and at Bolton Wanderers, and almost 29 years after his Leicester City debut, appeared one more at league level while at Burnden Park. A fine play-off final performance at Molineux then assisted The Trotters to Wembley and promotion.
After his time with Bolton he moved on to other clubs, combining the role of goalkeeping and coaching, being registered at Coventry City and later West Ham United. He then made a move to Leyton Orient, it happened in November 1996 when he had reached the age of 47. With a tally of 996 league appearances he was eager to reach the 1000 landmark. He got a chance to play and managed 9 while at Brisbane Road, taking his total amount to 1005 games. His 1000th game was live on Sky, and Peter kept a clean sheet.
He had an impressing league career and the first eight years were with Leicester City, he even scored a goal, rarely seen by a goalkeeper. It all happened away to Southampton, Leicester was already 4-1 up, and a long ball, which Shilton himself admitted losing sight of on this foggy afternoon, was ment for Mike Stringfellow, but no one touched the ball as it bounced over the Southampton goalkeeper.
Where Gordon Banks is remembered for “The best save ever”, Peter Shilton will be reminded of “The hand of God”, remarkably thinking that with a VAR system this would never have happened.
- Full Name: Peter Leslie Shilton
- Position: Goalkeeper
- Date of Birth: 18.09.1949
- Birthplace: Leicester
- Nation: England
- Full Caps: 125, Debut: 1970 v. East Germany
- U.23 Caps: 13, Debut: 1969 v. Wales
- Major League Career:
- 1966-74, Leicester City (286/1)
- 1974-77, Stoke City (110/0)
- 1977-82, Nottingham Forest (202/0)
- 1982-87, Southampton, (188/0)
- 1987-92, Derby County (175/0)
- 1995, Bolton Wanderers (1/0)
- 1995-96, Leyton Orient (9/0)