England World Cup-winning ‘keeper Gordon Banks dies

Gordon Banks, whose club playing career revolved largely around Stoke and Leicester City, is the latest of the 1966 World Cup winning England team to pass away. (Reuters)
Updated 12 February 2019
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England World Cup-winning ‘keeper Gordon Banks dies

  • Banks, who played in every game of the 1966 campaign on home soil, is probably best known for a wonder save he produced to deny Brazilian great Pele in the 1970 World Cup
  • Pele — who would go on to lift the trophy — admitted later he had said ‘gol’, so sure was he that the ball was heading into the net

LONDON: Gordon Banks, England’s goalkeeper during their triumphant 1966 World Cup campaign, has died aged 81, his former club Stoke City announced on Tuesday.
His family said the 73-times capped Banks, who lost an eye in a car crash in 1972, had passed away in his sleep.
“It is with great sadness that we announce that Gordon passed away peacefully overnight,” his family said.
“We are devastated to lose him but we have so many happy memories and could not have been more proud of him.”
Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat-trick in the 4-2 win over West Germany in the World Cup final at Wembley, tweeted a fulsome tribute to his former team-mate.
“Very sad to hear the news that Gordon has died. One of the very greatest,” tweeted 77-year-old Hurst.
Banks, who played in every game of the 1966 campaign on home soil, is probably best known for a wonder save he produced to deny Brazilian great Pele in the 1970 World Cup group match.
“Once I got my hand to it I hadn’t a clue where it was going,” he modestly said afterwards.
Pele — who would go on to lift the trophy — admitted later he had said ‘gol’, so sure was he that the ball was heading into the net. Brazil still won the game 1-0.

However, Banks later recounted that he did not appreciate the remark made by one of his team-mates that day, midfielder Alan Mullery.
“I patted him on his head, and I said ‘why didn’t you catch it?’ and the abuse that came back was unbelievable,” said Mullery.
Mullery said Banks was probably the best goalkeeper he had played with or against.
“He was the best at that time. We had some great goalkeepers in those days, and the only person I can think came near was Pat Jennings,” said Mullery.
“He was absolutely marvellous goalkeeper. He was a likeable man, and when it came to business, he was probably the best there has ever been.”
Banks, whose club playing career revolved largely around Stoke and Leicester City, is the latest of the 1966 team to pass away.
Captain Bobby Moore, the baby of the team Alan Ball and Ray Wilson preceded him while several such as Nobby Stiles and Martin Peters suffer from Alzheimer’s.
Another former Leicester and England legend Gary Lineker — albeit from a later generation — also tweeted his appreciation of Banks, whose sole trophies at club level were two League Cups, one piece with Stoke and Leicester.
“Oh no. Gordon Banks, an absolute hero of mine, and countless others, has died,” tweeted Lineker.
“@England’s World Cup winner was one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, and such a lovely, lovely man. #RIPGordon.”
Stoke City chairman Peter Coates said Banks — who played 250 times for The Potters after he joined from Leicester in 1967 — had not been in good health for several weeks.
“We’ve been expecting his, he has been poorly for a number of weeks but it’s a very sad day for us, we love him so much,” said Coates.
“He made his home in Stoke, and was very much part of the fabric of the club. You don’t get too many like him, and he was immensely modest for all talent.
“He told me when they walked out at Wembley for the final, and he had goose-bumps, he had never seen anything like it.”


NBA, FIBA announce plans for pro league in Africa

Updated 17 February 2019
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NBA, FIBA announce plans for pro league in Africa

  • The Basketball Africa League is a new collaboration between the NBA and the sport’s global governing body FIBA
  • Qualification tournaments will be held to determine those clubs that will take part

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina: The NBA is bringing a pro league to Africa.
The Basketball Africa League, a new collaboration between the NBA and the sport’s global governing body FIBA, was announced Saturday. The initial plan is for the 12-team league to begin play in January, and former President Barack Obama is among those who are expected to have direct involvement with the league’s plan to keep growing the game in Africa through the league and other initiatives.
The scope of what Obama’s involvement will be remains unknown, and it’s yet to be determined which existing club teams will be part of the league. Qualification tournaments will be held later this year to determine those clubs, with teams from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia expected to be among those taking part. No nation will have more than two teams in the league.
“As we’ve been talking about this concept over the last several months, there’s been a tremendous reception from many of our NBA team owners ... and in addition, several of the partners of the NBA have expressed a strong desire to work with us in Africa,” Silver said.
Silver said Pepsi and Nike’s Jordan Brand — Charlotte owner Michael Jordan was among the owners in the room where Silver made the announcement — are among the partners who have reached out to the NBA and said they want to be part of the Africa league. Silver also said that Obama, an enormous basketball fan, has told him he wants to “be directly involved with these activities in Africa.”
Silver said talks between the NBA and Obama are ongoing. Obama spoke on a video that was shown during the event where Silver announced the league.
“I hope you know through sport, that if you put in effort, you will be rewarded,” Obama said. “I hope you learn through sport what it means to play as a team, and even if you are the best player, your job is not just to show off but your job is to make your teammates better.”
The NBA and FIBA’s involvement will include financial support and resources toward continued growing of the game on the continent, as well as providing training for players, coaches and referees and some infrastructure for the new league. Silver said there are 438 companies in Africa that generate more than $1 billion in revenue annually, but that sport there has not seen the same growth — yet.
“Africa is a huge economic engine,” Silver said. “And one place, though, where we haven’t seen enormous economic growth yet is in the industry of sport. And that’s something that we are all particularly focused on.”
The NBA has held three games in Africa since 2015, all of them selling out — two games in Johannesburg, the other in Pretoria. Many of the league’s current players and coaches, along with several legends and Hall of Famers, have been part of those trips.
“I went with them last year,” Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said. “The NBA reaches out across the world.”
The league has an office in South Africa, has helped create 87 learn-and-play facilities in seven African nations, and 13 players who were born in Africa on opening-night NBA rosters this season. The league also built an academy in Senegal that opened nearly two years ago.
“It’s a huge joy to see our partnership with the NBA enter uncharted territory as we work together for the first time to maximize the potential of professional basketball in Africa,” said Andreas Zagklis, FIBA’s secretary-general.
This marks the first time the NBA has been involved with the operation of a league outside of North America.
“We’re excited to work closely with the NBA to develop and put in a place a professional league like none that we have ever seen in our region before,” said FIBA Africa Executive Director Alphonse Bile. “Through the Basketball Africa League, we can provide the many great clubs and players with the best possible environment to compete for the highest stakes.”
The NBA says more details about the new league will be released in the coming months.