Gordon Banks was not only one of football’s greats but a great person as well - Johnny Cantor

Gordon Banks pictured with Pele at Wembley Stadium in 2000. Picture by Clive Mason/ALLSPORT
Gordon Banks pictured with Pele at Wembley Stadium in 2000. Picture by Clive Mason/ALLSPORT

It is always sad when one of your heroes passes away and this week thousands of football fans and ex players across the land paid tribute to one of the greats of the game.

As well as an assessment of goalkeeper Gordon Banks, the World Cup winner, the League Cup winner and the man who made ‘that save’, there were hundreds of positive comments about Banks as a person.


He was interesting but he was also interested in others. It is a personal view but I have to admit that in life it seems people don’t seem to listen and enquire as much anymore.


They seem more intent on telling others what they know or have done and of course that is important as well. However, as a journalist I see it as my job to take the time to listen to others.


You also have to be genuinely interested in the stories, thoughts and ideas of others. Gordon Banks trained hard, his positioning and movement were excellent and he devoted himself to becoming as good a player as he could.


He also took time to listen to other players and fans who came to speak to him. He often wrote letters and notes to others to help them along the way, whether it was Jack Butland or a teenage hopeful.


They say goalkeepers are a funny unique breed but Banks will always be the benchmark for an English goalkeeper. At the moment there is an excellent crop of good young keepers vying for a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad.


On the South Coast though it is an Australian, Maty Ryan, who takes the gloves in the Premier League for the Albion. A few weeks ago I asked Ryan why he comes out after a quick trip to the changing room after the full-time whistle to head to the North Stand. Ryan regularly hands over his gloves or shirt to a young fan. He admitted he can’t always do it (and I imagine it costs him to do it!) but Ryan’s motivation comes from his own experience. He said he was a fan himself in the past and wants to inspire the next generation.


On this week’s Albion Unlimited on BBC Sussex former Albion goalkeeper Eric Steele told the story of how he forgot his gloves as a youngster for Newcastle at Stoke.


He was offered a pair of the classic green cotton gloves of a certain Gordon Banks. He says he still has them and every day he passes them in his study.


Steele himself went on to have a good career as a player and coach and says he will always think of the good times inspired by the former England international.


As supporters we probably all have memorabilia and if those gloves or shirts go some way to inspiring us it is a good thing.


We should also take time out to listen to others. It may be in an official interview, it may be a chance meeting with a hero in the street but if we take the time to listen we might just learn something as well.

Follow all the action, home or away, on BBC Sussex Sport or Twitter: @BBCSussexSport or @johnnycburger
To read more by Johnny Cantor, visit www.johnnycantor.com
Albion Unlimited podcast is available to download via BBC iPlayer & iTunes

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