1970 World Cup: Pele, Gordon Banks and Magic vs Method

In the 1970 World Cup, defending champions England were drawn in the same group with Brazil, winner of the two previous cups before England, and with Pele leading the way, looking for a third title in four tournaments.

Both sides professed to welcome meeting each other at such an early stage, as this retrospective by Robin Hackett on ESPNFC explains. It was also a clash of styles: England’s discipline vs Brazil’s flair. The Daily Express described it as "Magic vs Method".

Gordon Banks denies Pele. Getty

Gordon Banks denies Pele. Getty

What followed was one of the most absorbing matches in World Cup history that featured perhaps the finest ever save by a goalkeeper and produced the famous photograph of a diving Gordon Banks, the England keeper.

After 18 minutes of absorbing play came one of football's finest moments as Gordon Banks sprang into action to make a low save from Pele's bullet header. So stunning were the England goalkeeper's reflexes that the Brazilian players asked the media afterwards whether he was a martial artist.Banks later told The Observer: "I heard Pele shout 'goal' as he headed it, which was followed by a massive, almost deafening, roar. Even though I'd got a hand to it, I thought he must have scored. Then I realised the crowd were cheering for me." Pele was left dumbfounded. "I could not believe what I saw," he said. "At that moment, I hated Banks more than any man in football. When I cooled down, I could only applaud him in my heart. It was the greatest save I have ever seen."

Jairzinho, on his way to scoring in every game in the World Cup, would eventually find a way to beat Banks. England had their chances at the other end, but failed to take them as Brazil ran out 1-0 winners. At the end of the game, both sides had nothing but praise for each other, with England captain Bobby Moore and Pele swamping shirts, producing another of football’s iconic photographs.

Read the full story here.


Updated Date: Feb 07, 2013 13:00 PM

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