JEFF POWELL: Moore's heroes trusted Gordon Banks with their lives 

To the best of my knowledge Gordon Banks, eternal gentleman as well as immortal custodian, told only one fib in his life. Plus one little white lie.
First the fib.
Once, when asked at a dinner who was the best goalkeeper of all time, Banks replied: 'Lev Yashin.' That untruth was spoken either as a courtesy to his Russian peer, in character with his constant humility or in deference to FIFA
officially ranking him second to his Soviet friend among the finest goalkeepers of the 20th Century.
Like it or not, our dear Gordon, the truth is that you were the greatest ever between the sticks. Still are. Even as you pass into the after-gloves, at 81, still smiling that crooked smile.
Secretly, deep down, I suspect you knew it but that innate modesty forbade you to say it.
Now the white lie.
It was Banks who suggested that an instant after he made that impossible save from Pele's header in the 1970 World Cup Finals in Mexico - diving to his right like a swooping eagle to claw the ball up and over the angle of post-and-crossbar - his England captain jested: 'You're getting old Banksy, you used to hold onto those.' 
That enchanting myth was dispelled recently by Banksy himself when he admitted that in the steamy heat of that heart-stopping moment in Guadalajara, Bobby Moore 'really just patted me on the shoulder and said well done.' 
Moore had confided as much before he died but refrained from publicly spoiling a story as charming as Banks himself, saying only in private and with a chuckle: 'I wish I had thought of it.' He wished also that Banks had not fallen victim of a stomach bug - poisoned said the conspiracy theorists - before the ensuing quarter-final against West Germany in which his nervous deputy Peter Bonetti conceded the goals which lost the World Cup won at Wembley four years earlier.
Goalkeepers - by nature of the blame-conscious nature of their solitary position - are creatures apart within a team game.
Banks had been the rock at the foundation of England's solitary World Cup glory in 1966 and Moore once reflected: 'We knew we had a genius in goal, the best. We all trusted him with our lives, the bravest. We all loved him, the nicest. And we all stood in admiration of him, almost from afar.' 
The game was different then. Pele's shout of 'gol' was stifled by Banks, of whom Brazil's greatest said later: 'I scored a thousand goals but I'm remembered for the one my friend Gordon saved.' 
Back home Banks plied his trade in what was still the working man's game. That brilliance shone through the muck and nettles of almost two hundred games at both Leicester and Stoke. The unstinting work and unflagging dedication which lit that fire was rewarded by not much more than the one League Cup victory with each of those clubs, back at Wembley.
That, and the esteem in which he was held all over the world and the affection with which he was comforted throughout football after the damage to his right eye sustained in a car crash effectively ended his career.
At 32 that was premature, especially for a goalkeeper. But the shadow cast over his sight never clouded the cheery perspective of a man who was a delight to be with. Nor the kidney cancer he kept at bay these last years, as if it were a forward closing on his goal.
The Banks supremacy was rooted in a god-given talent which, in his gratitude, he honed to perfection by perpetual practise and profound study of the art of goalkeeping.
The penalty area domination and the alacrity of his mind-boggling saves was a force of nature lovingly tended for half a life-time. Not of the strength, power and muscularity which are the bulging hall-marks of many fine keepers since, who have achieved celebrity commensurate with their larger physique but not such classical mastery of their craft.
FIFA, by the way, would have forgiven the only fib. By their own records, Banks is the best ever.
The only goalkeeper in history named by them as the best in the world six years running. The one with the highest ratio of minutes, 210, to each goal conceded in World Cup competition, so less than one in every two matches.
The Banks of England, we used to call him. Well, a safer pair hands for this country than those of the present governor of the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street.
Not that Mark Carney should take umbrage. Nobody bears comparison with Gordon the Greatest.

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