No.12: Gordon Banks’ Save Of The Century (Mexico, 1970)
In the rich history of the World Cup there are host of iconic moments that involve goalkeepers. Dino Zoff was the first ever ‘keeper to captain a team to glory when he won the trophy with Italy in 1982, whilst Iker Casillas was simply superb in Spain’s maiden World Cup win.
But there’s one goalkeeping moment that stands out and still to this day, it’s regarded as one of the greatest saves in the history of the game.
Gordon Banks won the World Cup with England in 1966 and going into the 1970 tournament in Mexico he was regarded as one of the best goalkeepers on the planet. And when England tackled the might of Brazil early in the tournament, Banks was obviously going to have to be at his very best up against the likes of Pele and Jairzinho.
England were struggling to contain their opponents early in the game, and when Brazil broke down the right in the first half Jairzinho stood a wonderful ball up for Pele at the back post.
The centre-forward leapt superbly to get his head on the ball, powering a header down into the ground. It looked impossible to stop, but somehow, the England ‘keeper managed to keep it out:
What happened next?
Banks continued to pull off wonderful saves in the second half, but was powerless to prevent Jairzinho’s winning goal. Both teams eventually went through to the knock-out stages; England were knocked out by West Germany in the quarter-finals, whilst Brazil went on to win the tournament.
But Banks’ save has been forever engrained in the annals of the game. Pele reportedly bellowed “GOAL!!!” as he headed the ball down, and to this day he’s still unsure how Banks managed to claw the ball out, per FIFA.com:
From the moment I headed it, I was sure it had gone in. I had already began to jump to celebrate the goal. Then I looked back and I couldn’t believe it hadn’t gone in!
Typically modest, Banks spoke about the save last year to the Mail Online and said “after all these years I cannot believe people still talk about it”.
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