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England bids Banks farewell

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REUTERS/Jon Super

STOKE-ON-TRENT (Reuters) – Crowds of mourning fans joined luminaries of English football for a final farewell yesterday to Gordon Banks, a steelworker’s son who became one of the world’s greatest goalkeepers and who will be remembered for his miraculous save against Pele.

Team mates from England’s 1966 World Cup win and members of former clubs Stoke City and Leicester came to join a cortege from the Stoke stadium to the funeral for Banks who died aged 81 last month.

“He was so humble, honest to God, he didn’t really understand what he had achieved in life and why people made such a fuss of him,” friend Terry Conroy, who starred with Banks and scored in Stoke’s 1972 League Cup win, told Reuters.

Banks was best known for the stunning one-handed save from a Pele bullet header that bounced awkwardly in front of him during England’s group-stage game against Brazil at the 1970 World Cup.

“With the luck of the gods, the angle at which I’d managed to lift that ball was perfect, and it ballooned in the air and over the bar,” the genial Banks said in one of the many recountings begged by fans and media.

Footage shows Banks chuckling afterwards, as England’s Bobby Moore jokingly chides him for not catching the ball.

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