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Gordon Banks death: Pele pays heartfelt tribute to England's World Cup-winning goalkeeper

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 5 days ago ALEX YOUNG
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(Video provided by Press Association)

Pele has paid tribute to Gordon Banks on the day England's World Cup-winning goalkeeper passed away.

The family of Banks announced on Tuesday morning that the 81-year-old had passed peacefully.

Banks' most famous moment in a football shirt was arguably the "greatest ever save", playing for world champions England against Brazil in 1970.

Almost 50 years on from the famous stop, Pele has paid his respects.

"For many people, their memory of Gordon Banks is defined by the save he made against me in 1970," he wrote on Facebook. "I understand why.

"The save was one of the best I have ever seen - in real life and in all the thousands of games I have watched since. 

Gordon Banks, Pele are posing for a picture © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

"When you are a footballer, you know straight away how well you have hit the ball. I hit that header exactly as I had hoped. Exactly where I wanted it to go. And I was ready to celebrate.

"But then this man, Banks, appeared in my sight, like a kind of blue phantom, is how I described him. He came from nowhere and he did something I didn't feel was possible. He pushed my header, somehow, up and over. And I couldn't believe what I saw. Even now when I watch it l, I can't believe it. I can't believe how he moved so far, so fast.

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"I scored so many goals in my life, but many people, when they meet me, always ask me about that save. While it was indeed phenomenal, my memory of Gordon is not defined by that - it is defined by his friendship. He was a kind and warm man who gave so much to people.

"So I am glad he saved my header - because that act was the start of a friendship between us that I will always treasure. Whenever we met, it was always like we had never been apart.

Soccer Football - England's 1966 World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks passes away - bet365 Stadium, Stoke-On-Trent, Britain - February 12, 2019   Tributes are placed on a statue of Gordon Banks outside the stadium   Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine © Reuters Soccer Football - England's 1966 World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks passes away - bet365 Stadium, Stoke-On-Trent, Britain - February 12, 2019 Tributes are placed on a statue of Gordon Banks outside the stadium Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

"I have great sadness in my heart today and I send condolences to the family he was so proud of. 

"Rest in peace, my friend. Yes, you were a goalkeeper with magic. But you were also so much more. You were a fine human being."

Gallery: The greatest goalkeepers of all time (Read Sport)

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