A Stoke statement at 9.45am read: “From the family of Gordon Banks It is with great sadness that we announce that Gordon passed away peacefully overnight. We are devastated to lose him but we have so many happy memories and could not have been more proud of him.”
But the first suggestion that tragic news was incoming came from comedian John Bishop this morning.
He left fans devastated after tweeting: “Sad news about Gordon Banks who I had the pleasure to meet on a few occasions. A gentleman and a football legend RIP.”
Express Sport contacted A1 Sporting Speakers, who are listed as Banks’ agent on Twitter, after Bishop’s Instagram post was made and they said an ‘announcement would be made later’. The Stoke statement then followed soon after.
Banks began his footballing career at Chesterfield before joining Leicester in 1959 for £7,000.
It there where he established himself as England’s number one. He won his first international cap in 1963 against Scotland and went on to play 73 times for his country.
Banks played in every game of the 1966 World Cup campaign, including the 4-2 victory over West Germany in the final at Wembley.
He spent eight years at Leicester where he was runner-up in two FA Cup finals and won the League Cup in 1964.
He joined Stoke in 1967 and stayed at the club until his retirement from professional football, winning the League Cup again in 1972.
Banks lost the sight in his right eye after being injured in a road accident in 1972 and retired at the age of 34 as a result.
Leicester City, for whom Banks played for much of the 1960s, tweeted: “Leicester City Football Club is deeply saddened to learn of the death of our former goalkeeper Gordon Banks OBE, who has passed away at the age of 81.”
Leicester City and England defender Harry Maguire wrote on Twitter: “A World Cup winner, a legend. RIP Gordon Banks.”
Ex-England striker Michael Owen tweeted: “Sad to hear that Gordon Banks has passed away at the age of 81. Had the pleasure of meeting him a number of times and he was one of the game’s true gentlemen, not to mention one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. Rest In Peace.”
While England and Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling tweeted: “Of course there was THAT save, but its so much more we are mourning today. RIP Gordon Banks. @England legend, your legacy will live on. All my thoughts with the family.”
THE TOP THREE GREATEST GOALKEEPING SAVES OF ALL TIME
1) Gordon Banks v Pele, 1970
Banks’ astonishing save from the Brazilian superstar during their 1970 World Cup clash in Mexico is universally acknowledged as the greatest save of all time.
Pele’s close-range header was aiming for the bottom corner of the net when Banks threw himself to his right and somehow managed to scoop the ball off the goal-line and up over the crossbar to safety.
2) Peter Schmeichel v Rene Wagner, 1996
Schmeichel denied Rapid Vienna’s Wagner in a manner similar to the way in which Banks had kept Pele at bay.
Wagner headed downwards from seven yards, but Manchester United keeper Schmeichel stretched across and got enough on the ball to divert it over the crossbar.
3) David Seaman v Paul Peschisolido, 2003
A remarkable point-blank reaction save which Seaman rates as the best of his career. Arsenal were hanging on against Sheffield United in their FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford when, with six minutes to go, Carl Asaba volleyed goalwards from a corner and Peschisolido got his head on it from three yards out.
The ball was more than a yard behind Seaman, on his 1,000th senior appearance, and to his right, but somehow he managed to get his arm back to claw it away.