Gordon Banks's 'Greatest Save of All Time' Off of Pelé Header
That Gordon Banks is better remembered for this one save during England's match with Brazil in 1970, rather than winning the World Cup, is a sign of how powerful a moment it was.
The move started when Jarzinho latched on to a pass and sped down the wing. Reaching the by-line he pulled a cross towards the back post. Banks, who had been defending his near post suddenly had to adjust. As he scrambled across goal, Pele met the pass with perfect timing and headed it with powerful precision into the bottom corner. The Brazilian screamed 'goal' as he headed it and was already working himself into a celebration. Yet defying the laws of physics, Banks was able to propel himself downwards and backwards and get a hand to it. Somehow, he pushed the ball over the bar. The Mexican crowd ripped into applause at what they had witnessed while Pele would later say it was the greatest save he ever witnessed.
Weird that a game we lost 1-0 produced two of the most fondly remembered moments in England history. But such is life as an England fan.
It was the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, and holders England faced soon-to-be-champions Brazil, in a group game in Guadalajara. Brazil won the game 1-0 with a great goal by Jairzinho (set up by Pelé) but England fans remember it for two moments of defensive excellence:
Gordon Banks’ save from Pelé’s header, and Bobby Moore’s legendary tackle on Jairzinho.