|Sheffield Legends plaque - Gordon Banks, footballer (installed 2006)|
Gordon is England's only World Cup-winning goalkeeper following his exploits in 1966 and he was honoured by the Queen with an OBE for his achievements in football.
Despite playing for Sheffield Boys, the Tinsley lad had given no thought to playing the game for a living when he left school. Instead he became a coalman's mate, bagging and delivering coal, and later an apprentice bricklayer. He started playing again by chance when he went to watch a local amateur side, Millspaugh, and he was asked to help out because their goalie had not turned up. In 1955 he was spotted by a scout and joined Chesterfield as a part-time pro in the Third Division North for £2 a match.
After two years National Service he returned to Chesterfield and turned full-time pro on £17 a week, before joining Leicester City in 1959 for a £7,000 transfer fee. Gordon was on the losing side in the 1961 and 1963 FA Cup Finals, but won the League Cup with Leicester in 1964. By then Alf Ramsay had become England manager and selected him for his second match in charge of the team - the first of Gordon's 73 international caps.
England lost only nine of their 73 matches with Banks in goal - conceding only 57 goals, a miserly average of just 0.78 per game with 35 clean sheets. He earned the nickname of Banks of England as he was as safe between the goalposts as money in the Bank of England!
Gordon joined Stoke City in 1967 for £50,000 and his international career continued - perhaps culminating in what Brazilian star Pele described as the greatest save he had ever seen at the 1970 World Cup Finals.
Gordon helped Stoke win their first trophy in their history in 1972 - the League Cup against Chelsea - and he was voted Footballer of the Year the same year. Within five months his professional life was in ruins - shattered by a road accident in which he lost the sight of his right eye. He had played 510 league games and, although he joined Fort Lauderdale in the North American Soccer League and was voted the League's most valuable goalkeeper, the over-the-top showmanship of the American game was not for him.
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