Thousands of people around the world today (March 4) paid their respects to England’s World Cup winning hero Gordon Banks.
Banks, voted best goalkeeper in the world on six occasions, died last month at the age of 81 and was laid to rest following a service at Stoke Minster this afternoon.
The funeral cortege passed through the Bet365 stadium at 11.30am and stopped at the pitch side dugout to a round of applause in the form of a guard of honour.
A large crowd watched the memorial service on two big screens where there were displays of photos and footage of his playing career.
Banks’ coffin stopped briefly outside his statue before setting off for the service at Stoke Minster.
Crowds were six people deep when the cortege arrived at around 1:30pm.
Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Geoff Hurst and Jack Charlton who played in the 1966 World Cup were among those who paid their respects.
Banks’ coffin was carried by goalkeepers of his former three clubs; Stoke, Leicester and Chesterfield.
Stoke and England goalkeeper Jack Butland was a pallbearer joined by Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel, Chesterfield’s Joe Anyon and England’s Joe Hart.
Banks started his career at Chesterfield in March 1953 and was sold to Leicester City for £7,000 in July 1959. He made over 200 appearances for the Midlands side winning a League Cup and finishing as a runner up in two FA Cups.
After winning the 1966 World Cup with England in which he played every game, Banks moved to Stoke for a fee of £50,000 in 1967.In his six years at the Victoria Ground, Banks made 194 appearances and was part of the team which won the 1972 League Cup, the club’s only major honour to date.
He was also acknowledged for making arguably the best save in football history, in a 1970 World Cup group game against Pele’s Brazil.
Banks then tragically lost his sight in his right eye in a car crash in October 1972 which led to his retirement from football.Despite his injury, Banks did play two seasons in America for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers incredibly, winning the league’s goalkeeper of the year in 1977.
Today Stoke fans paid their last respects to their hero.
Josh Lias, 23, of Chell, said: “I’ve come down because it’s tribute not to a legend of Stoke but a tribute to a legend of England as well. He was an England and Stoke goalkeeper and a footballing hero.
“I never saw him play but I’ve heard stories about him and what a gentleman he was so I thought it was right for me to come down.”
Antoni Sadula, 22, of Hanley, said: “It’s very special for me to come down because when I was nine years old I met Gordon when he switched on the lights in Hanley and he said then just to follow my dreams and keep working hard so for him to say that has always inspired me so I thought I had to come down and pay my respects to Gordon.”
Steve Swann, 54, of Hanley, said: “Gordon’s one of Stoke’s hero’s so you’ve got to be here.
“it’s just a chance of a life time just to give him a send-off.”