Pele has paid a touching tribute to his friend Gordon Banks after the World Cup winner died overnight.
England’s 1966 World Cup-winning goalkeeper Banks has died at the age of 81, his former club Stoke have announced.
The news was revealed in a statement from the Banks family on the club’s official website, www.stokecityfc.com.
It said: “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.
“We would ask that the privacy of the family is respected at this time.”
In a post on Facebook, Pele paid tribute to Banks and said: “I understand why” his famous 1970 World Cup save against him was held in such high esteem.
“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,” Pele said.
“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.
For many people, their memory of Gordon Banks is defined by the save he made against me in 1970. I understand why. The…
“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, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe how he moved so far, so fast.”
The Brazilian added: “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.
“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.”