1966. A time eponymous with England’s World Cup victory, a “very proud” moment for the goalkeeper widely regarded as the world’s greatest, Gordon Banks OBE.
A member of the team that conquered football’s highest pinnacle, Gordon was famous for making what Brazilian superstar Pelé called the greatest save he had ever seen – the “Save of the Century”.
Gordon was recognised with an honorary degree from Staffordshire University in 2009 for being a source of inspiration to footballers worldwide and for being a great ambassador locally and nationally.
England lost only nine of their 73 matches with Gordon playing, during which he let in just 57 goals, keeping 35 clean sheets. He also played 510 league games, 194 of them for Stoke after being signed by the club in 1967. For a time, after retiring as a player, Gordon coached The Potters’ Youth Team.
“I loved every moment of playing professional football,” said Gordon, who signed as a part-time pro in 1955. “It was my life and I’m very proud to have been selected for England as well as playing in a World Cup final.”
It was largely by chance that Sheffield-born Gordon fell into football. “I was bagging coal at the age of 15, when I left school, and then I got a job at a builders’ site,” he recalled. “Then, by sheer accident, when I went to watch a local team, someone asked me if I wanted to play in net and that’s how it all started.”
Gordon’s career allowed him to support a number of charities and he was also involved with the United Nations’ Sport for Development and Peace agenda.
Locally Gordon performed charity work for Royal Stoke University Hospital, for the Children’s Emergency Access Fund and served as Chairman of the North Staffordshire branch of the Alzheimer’s Society.
A statue to commemorate his achievements was erected in Stoke in July 2008, when the unveiling was attended by Pelé and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Gordon Banks OBE was a fully engaged member of Staffordshire University community. He sadly died on 12 February, 2019, but will be fondly remembered by all who came into contact with him.