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Gordon Banks, World Cup Winner.

Much more than that actually. *That* save against Pele will go down in football history, in fact in 2002 he remarked to FourFourTwo magazine that “It’s something that people will always remember me for. They won’t remember me for winning the World Cup, it’ll be for that save. That’s how a big a thing it is. People just want to talk about that save.” In another interview, with The Observer Sport Monthly, he commented that “As I got to my feet I tried to look as nonchalant as possible, as if to say that I make that sort of save all the time.”

Gordon Banks defended more nets than just the English national one however. A quick glance at his C.V shows Stoke City, Leicester City , Chesterfield , The Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Cleveland Stokers and, believe it or not, Saint Patrick’s Athletic.

Banks played one game for the Saints, a home match against Dublin rivals Shamrock Rovers. Barry Bridges was managing the Saints at the time, as player manager. The year previously, in 1976, Pats had gained some attention by picking up Neil Martin, a former Hibernan F.C, Sunderland and Nottingham Forest striker, among other clubs. In fact, English player manager Bridges had an impresive record himself, including but not limited to spells at Chelsea, Milwall and QPR.

Barry Bridges

The Irish Times of October 1st 1977 noted that Barry Bridges stated there was a “fifty fifty” chance Banks would line out the next night in Richmond Park. Picked up from Fort Lauderdale, it all depended on clearance from the American F.A. The paper noted that

“The signing, which is likely to extract a sharp response from St. Patrick’s first choice goalkeeper, Mick O’ Brien, represents the Dubliners’ most entreprising move since Neil Martin joined the club last seaon”

Amazingly, Gordon Banks had returned to goalkeeping despite losing sight in one eye following a car crash. It was common enough at the time for English players to semi-retire in the U.S game, and Banks signing to Pats was a surprise to many. In the end, he was given clearance to perform and maintained a clean seat, in a one nil home victory over Rovers. He would never grace the pitch at Richmond Park again, and returned to the United States.

Barry Bridges remained at Pats until February 1978, moving on to become player manager of Sligo Rovers. Banks remains just one former English international to briefly play in the Irish league. Geoff Hurst, Terry Venables (another Saint), Carlton Palmer and Bobby Charlton are just a small selection of others who have done the same.

 Gordon played alongside future Waterford United player Bobby Charlton in 1966.

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