One of soccer’s greatest goalkeepers, Gordon Banks, passed peacefully in his sleep last night at the age of 81. Banks was a World Cup winner with England in 1966 and part of the original NASL revolution in the 1970s. Banks was the goalkeeper for the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers in their infancy playing on the NASL roster alongside a whole load of greats including Gerd Müller, Teófilo Cubillas, Elías Figueroa and George Best.
Banks was a dominant figure in English football. He featured most prominently at the club level with Leicester City and Stoke City. He was named FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year every year from 1966 through 1971. However, a serious car accident in 1972 that cost him the vision in his right eye was thought to be a career-ender. Car accidents like this are really unfortunate because it can really turn a person’s life upside-down. But a chance in the United States lured Banks out of retirement and into an unbelievable second act in South Florida.
A Vision in South Florida
Over two seasons at Lockhart, Banks recorded 11 clean sheets in 37 games. He helped the side to a first-place finish in the Eastern Division of the Atlantic Conference, winning the NASL regular season in the process in 1977. Banks was voted the league’s best goalkeeper for his performances in the Strikers’ inaugural season. He conceded just 29 goals in 26 games before finally retiring from the game in 1978.
Inter Miami’s David Beckham stated on Instagram, “Our World Cup winner & our greatest goal keeper of all time. A hero and a gentleman. Our thoughts go out to Gordon’s family and friends. Rest In Peace.” Beckham and Inter Miami are one of two groups currently looking to revitalize Lockhart Stadium and bring it back into regular soccer use.
Gordon’s family: “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.”
Banks’s best known moment was an impossible save against Pele at the 1970 World Cup. Rest in peace Gordon.