Editor’s note: Each day between now and the kickoff of the first match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Nov. 20, we’ll unveil a different memory from World Cup history. The countdown from 101 continues with Gordon Banks’ super save.
It’s often called the best save in soccer history. In England’s group stage match against mighty Brazil at the 1970 World Cup, Gordon Banks, the gentlemanly Three Lions keeper, raced across this line and somehow kept out what looked like a certain goal from none other than Pelé himself.
Unmarked at the far post, Pelé met Jairzinho’s cross from the right side perfectly. “I hit that header exactly as I had hoped. Exactly where I wanted it to go. And I was ready to celebrate,” Pelé, who became close friends with Banks over the decades following their shared moment on the biggest stage, said following the Englishman’s death in 2019.
“He came from nowhere, and he did something I didn’t feel was possible,” the Brazilian great added. “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 how he moved so far, so fast.”
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