1966 World Cup winner Gordon Banks is not new to facing adversity. The former England goalkeeper, regarded as the best in the world with arguably Lev Yashin the only goalkeeper who was better, was forced to retire from competitive English football in the early 1970s. A car crash resulted in him being blinded in one eye and for a goalkeeper where absolute precision is a must, it finished him playing at the highest level.
The 77-year-old Banks is facing kidney cancer. In fact, ten years earlier, he lost a kidney to the same condition and faces the prospect of losing his remaining kidney. One of Banks’ daughters has offered a kidney to her father but hopefully, the big man can come through this latest bout and beat the dreaded cancer.
Banks made what is considered to be the most famous save in football history at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. It was dubbed “The Save of the Century”. Several factors made it all the more special. Firstly, the match was between the world champions England, and Brazil, the nation which would go on to be world champions. The save was made by Banks, the best goalkeeper in the world against Pelé, the greatest player in the world. To this day, over 45 years later, Pelé still can’t believe he did not score and how Banks managed to save it. Pelé has even sent his best wishes to Banks, offering his warmth and prayers to an old friend in the hope that Banks will recover from his latest setback.
Luckily, Banks is drawing strength from all his support and even his football experiences. He said: “If I could make a save like the one against Pelé, while playing against the greatest in the world, then I will be able to battle through this health problem.”
Let’s hope that this football legend can make a recovery from his latest health setback and make a full recovery without losing his kidney. If anyone can do it, Banksie can. After all, he’s done something more impossible. Just ask Pelé.