'You were a goalkeeper with magic' - Pele pays tribute to Gordon Banks

Brazilian legend Pele has paid tribute to former England goalkeeper Gordon Banks, who has died aged 81.

Banks' most famous save came in the 1970 World Cup when he stopped a certain goal with a majestic dive to his right to claw Pele's header off the line, with the Brazilian ready to celebrate.

That stop would be go on to be known as "the save of the century".

In their retirement, the two became friends appearing at numerous events together.

"For many people, their memory of Gordon Banks is defined by the save he made against me in 1970. I understand why," Pele said on Facebook.

"The save was one of the best I have ever seen - in real life and in all the thousands of games I have watched since.

"When you are a footballer, you know straight away how well you have hit the ball. I hit that header exactly as I had hoped. Exactly where I wanted it to go. And I was ready to celebrate.

Gordon Banks, left, with Pele, right. Credit: PA

"But then this man, Banks, appeared in my sight, like a kind of blue phantom, is how I described him. He came from nowhere and he did something I didn't feel was possible. He pushed my header, somehow, up and over. And I couldn't believe what I saw. Even now when I watch it l, I can't believe it. I can't believe how he moved so far, so fast."

The imagine of Banks diving to his right is an iconic one, almost as much for Pele as the goalkeeper himself.

"I scored so many goals in my life, but many people, when they meet me, always ask me about that save," Pele explained. "While it was indeed phenomenal, my memory of Gordon is not defined by that - it is defined by his friendship. He was a kind and warm man who gave so much to people."

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The lasting legacy of that save was a kinship between the two greats who won four World Cups between them.

"So I am glad he saved my header - because that act was the start of a friendship between us that I will always treasure. Whenever we met, it was always like we had never been apart.

"I have great sadness in my heart today and I send condolences to the family he was so proud of.

"Rest in peace, my friend. Yes, you were a goalkeeper with magic. But you were also so much more. You were a fine human being."