Gordon Banks, England’s world cup winning goalkeeper in 1966 and a legendary name in the English game, passed away last week. He was a very good goalkeeper who pulled off many great saves including a famous one from a Pele header at the 1970 world cup.
Banks managed to divert a goalbound header over the crossbar, using incredible reflexes and suitably aided by his gloved hands.
Four years earlier, Banks had been in goal as England won their first and only world cup till date. His gloves were more like gardening gloves and had better grip than many which his contemporaries wore. Actually, during that period, goalkeeping greats such as Alex Stepney and Pat Jennings did not even wear gloves at all.
1885 is the year in which football gloves were first invented according to the German Patents Office. A British football manufacturer called William Sykes filed a patent for goalkeeper gloves made out ofgloves also had a rubber layer designed to give the goalkeeper’s hands further protection. However, these gloves were never put into mass production and goalkeepers continued keeping goal using their bare hands for the next five decades. This was no mean feat considering how heavy the balls were back then. Imagine the impact of the shots they had to face!
Reusch, a company founded in 1934, is believed to be the first manufacturer to make goalkeepers’ gloves en masse. The first goalkeeper widely recognised for wearing gloves was Amadeo Carrizo. He played for River Plate in the late 1940s and 1950s. The Argentine’s gloves were not the most effective though. A major material used in them was cotton and this usually soaked water in wet conditions and caused the gloves to be slippery.
The modern day gloves which are now more widely used, originate from the larger sized ones designed for goalkeeping great, Sepp Maier, which he wore at the 1974 world cup. The world cup winning gloves had better cushioning and better grip and were manufactured by Reusch.
However, it has to be noted there is nothing in FIFA’s rulebook which states goalkeepers have to wear gloves at all. Memorably, in Portugal’s penalty shoot-out with England at Euro 2004, goalkeeper Ricardo took off his gloves midway through the shoot-out when about to face Darius Vassell’s spot-kick. Not only did he save the penalty bare-handed, he then stepped up to score Portugal’s next kick to win the match. Impressive stuff.
Ricardo later revealed in an interview after the game that it was nothing more than mind-games. “I felt that I had to do something after conceding three penalties all in the centre of the goal. Taking the gloves off was what occurred to me at that moment and I did it to try and motivate myself and to put Vassell off.”
He banked on his bare-handed tactic and it absolutely worked. Do you think we would see another goalkeeper doing similar anytime soon? Don’t bank on it.
Rest in Peace, Gordon Banks.
By Oladimeji Sapoloso