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Gordon Banks save against Pele in the 1970 World Cup remains the gold standard for all saves.

Never in the history of the World Cup has a goalie made a save as brilliant as that one. Looking at the replay today, it's still hard to believe he was able to pull it off, as it seems that even Superman would have a difficult time getting to that ball.


Brazil and England were the best teams in 1970, and the matchup served as the de facto final. Brazil would beat the defending World Champions, but the most memorable moment from the game was the save by Banks. It came in the first half.


The phenomenal Jairzinho got on the end off a pass and sent in a beautiful cross from the end line. The legendary Pele headed the cross downward with a ferocious amount of pace. The ball looked, for all the world, to be heading inside of the left post. Banks had been drawn towards the other post, since the cross came from the right-hand side.

BANKS SAVEMiraculously, Banks was able to get over there in enough time and showed cat-like reflexes to dive out and knock the ball away. In the process of making the save, Banks had to dive not only across the line, but backwards as well to prevent it from going in. The most amazing thing about the save was that Banks only got his thumb to the ball, yet, somehow managed to flick it over the bar.

Pele would describe it as the best save that he had ever seen in his life. He even admitted that more people remember that play than any of the goals that he scored. Unfortunately, Banks would get food poisoning and would miss the quarterfinal match against West Germany.

Banks said: “As I got to my feet Pele came up to me and patted me on the back. He said ‘I thought that was a goal’ and I replied ‘You and me both’.
“Bobby Moore walked over and patted me on the back as well. ‘Try to get hold of the ball, for Christ’s sake!’ he said. ‘No silly corners!’”


It was a match in which England would badly miss him, as they lost 3-2, after having a two-goal lead. Nevertheless, Banks will always be immortalized in the sport for pulling off the most spectacular save in the tournament’s history.

Join us in celebrating this legend. 


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