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Pele ‘glad’ Gordon Banks made legendary save

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A statue of Stoke City and England’s former goalkeeper Gordon Banks is draped in scarves and surrounded by floral tributes to honour England’s World Cup winning goalkeeper, outside the Bet365 stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, central England © AFP / Oli SCARFF

PARIS, France, Feb 12 – Pele said on Tuesday he was “glad” England goalkeeper Gordon Banks saved his header at the 1970 World Cup because it was the start of a lasting friendship between the two men.

Paying tribute to Banks who died on Monday at the age of 81, the Brazilian legend said that even now he cannot believe Banks managed to scoop away the header in Guadalajara’s Estadio Jalisco.

“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, 78, said in a Facebook post.

“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.”

Although Banks had played a key role when England win the World Cup in 1966, the save from Pele four years later came to define his career and the Brazilian said it created an unbreakable bond between the two men.

“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.”

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