LONDON – Soccer stars, fans and even a uniformed guard of honor gathered to say goodbye to England’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks on Monday.
The former England international died on Feb. 12, aged 81, and was laid to rest following an afternoon funeral service at Stoke Minster in Stoke-on-Trent, England.
“A sporting legend and a proud member of the Royal Signals,” the Royal Corps of Signals, responsible for maintaining British Army communications, said in a statement. “An incredible turn out for an incredible man.”
Members of the military service stood at attention in the rain on the roadside, carrying flags and banners in honor of their former colleague.
Geoff Hurst and the Charlton brothers, Bobby and Jack, from the 1966 World Cup-winning squad were among the mourners.
Thousands of fans, many wearing commemorative shirts or carrying England scarves, lined the streets.
Applause broke out when the funeral cortege entered Stoke City’s stadium, where Banks spent much of his career.
His coffin was carried out of the service by goalkeepers Jack Butland, Joe Hart, Joe Anyon, and Kasper Schmeichel.
Banks won 73 caps for England and his acrobatic block of Pele’s rocketing header in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico is still widely regarded as one of the best saves ever made.
In an interview after the game, which Brazil went on to win 1-0, Banks said Brazil’s famous number 10 approached him and said: “I thought that was a goal,” to which he replied: “You and me both.”
He said he could be seen laughing as he took his position for the ensuing corner as fellow England great, and captain at the time, Bobby Moore turned and said: “You’re getting old, Banksy, you used to hold onto them.”
Banksy of England, as he came to be known, had spells at English clubs Leicester City and Stoke City before his career was cut short when he lost the sight in one eye in a car crash in 1972, just two years after his famous save in Guadalajara.
He had attempted to overtake another car on a sharp bend when he collided with an oncoming vehicle and ended up in a roadside ditch. He required hundreds of stitches to his face but would never regain binocular vision.
Despite attempts to resume his career, the Sheffield-born keeper retired from professional soccer in the United Kingdom and later went on to have spells in the North American Soccer League.
Banks had a brief managerial career at Telford United.
In 2015, it was announced the former goalkeeper was undergoing treatment for kidney cancer.