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13 November 2014

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You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > History > Local Heroes > A tribute to Banksy

Gordon Banks

A tribute to Banksy

Stoke City legend Gordon Banks is probably the greatest goalkeeper ever. Find out here about his achievements, his biography, the commemoration statue, his links with Pele - and have your say too!

Banksy will be forever remembered for that save from Pele in 1970, but his achievements were much more than that.
For ten years Gordon Banks was not only England's Number One, but was acknowledged to be the best 'keeper in the world - perhaps the best there has ever been.

But for the Stoke City hero, it wasn't always like this. His early amateur football didn't suggest his day job was going to change any time soon - he was sacked from his second club after conceding fifteen goals in two games!

But only a few years later, Banks was England's first-choice keeper, winning the World Cup in 1966 and making the 'Save of the Century' against Pele in 1970.

It was all cut brutally short. Returning home from the training ground in 1972, his car crashed into a van and he lost his right eye.
Banks struggled to come back, but the standards he'd set himself seemed cruelly out of reach. It shouldn't have been possible, but Banks did fight back, confounding medical opinion to play in the American league alongside other legends like Pele, George Best and Franz Beckenbauer.

Pele comes to dinner

A mark of how much he is respected in the game are the celebrations on July 12th, 2008.
A statue is being unveiled - to mark his achievements - and that event will be accompanied on the same day by a massive dinner in his honour and a glittering charity match.

The event is being partly seen by Gordon Banks' friend and event-organiser Don Mullan as a way to make football a force for good, and he's calling the day 'A Celebration of Sport for Peace'.
Full details are at: or you can find out more by clicking on the links below...

Gordon Banks


The statue, which, will be the only statue of a goal keeper that has ever been erected in the United Kingdom, is the centre of attention though.
The finished statue will see Gordon Banks in two different goal keeping poses making legendary saves on raised plinths - and a third of him holding the World Cup.  The third figure will be at ground level for people to have their photographs taken with. 
The statue has been designed and cast by Andy Edwards, a local sculptor, who has also sculpted statues of other football legends such as Sir Stanley Matthews.   
Click here for photographs...

An honourable career

The celebrations do pay tribute to a great career though.  Gordon played 510 league matches in total (including 194 appearances for Stoke) and made 73 appearances for England.
During his international career he kept 35 clean sheets and was on the losing side just nine times!

Sadly, like his predecessor at Stoke, Stanley Matthews, he never won the number of honours his talent and ability deserved.

In 2002 he became honorary president of Stoke City following the death of another soccer legend, Sir Stanley Matthews.


The book...

Gordon Banks was a sporting idol for people around the world. He was revered and respected everywhere he went.

Gordon Banks

For author Don Mullan, who has written the biography of Gordon Banks, hope and inspiration came from what seemed to be a most unlikely source. It all happened  during his childhood, set against the troubles of Northern Ireland...


Local hero

Down the years, Radio Stoke has been present at many of Gordon's games, including the 1972 League Cup, and BBC Radio Stoke commentator Nigel Johnson insists that the signing of Gordon Banks was fantastic business for the club.

But Nigel's story describes how Stoke City very nearly missed out on Banksy's signature...!



Okay, we've heard a lot about Banks from his peers - but what do you think?  Leave a comment on our board - and while you're there, why not congratulate a great player on having had a statue put up to himself?

last updated: 23/12/2009 at 09:40
created: 18/06/2008

Have Your Say



Chris C
There is no doubt he is the best ever English goalkeeper, but I think Schmeichel was a fraction more imposing in his penalty area. As good as any signing Tony Waddington made (and there were plenty of good one's) he kept Stoke in the the top league more than one season in the late 60's. A nice man too.

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