Belfast Telegraph

Watch: George Best's 'genius' goal that never was against Gordon Banks at Windsor Park

Legendary England goalkeeper Gordon Banks has died aged 81.

The Stoke and Leicester hero won the World Cup in 1966 and is just as well remembered for what is commonly recognised as the greatest save of all-time when he kept out a Pele header at the 1970 World Cup.

Playing against Northern Ireland, one moment springs to mind more than any other - when George Best nicked the ball from under his nose, nodded it into the net only to be beaten by the referee.

It was Saturday, May 15 1971 and a Home Nations match that Banks' England would go on to win 1-0 in front of 40,000 fans.

But the most talked-about moment arrived when Best refused to leave the side of the visiting goalkeeper who, with ball in hand, looked to blast it past the NI hero and up the pitch.

But in the split second between it leaving Banks' grasp and connecting with his swinging right boot, Best had already got his left it the way, flicking the all-white ball over the goalkeeper before heading home.

As 40,000 fans roared their appreciation of the skills of Georgie, Scottish referee Alistair MacKenzie heeded Banks' protests and disallowed the goal.

Watch it here:

The arguments raged for years as to whether Best's stroke of genius should have stood.

Former England captain Emlyn Hughes, however, before his passing aged just 57, admitted it should have stood.

Hughes was in the squad for that year's Home Nations although didn't play in Belfast, instead watching on as Best carried what Hughes called a 'sporting piece of genius'.

"Without a shadow of doubt, it was a goal," he declared.

"Banks bounced the ball a couple of times and George was watching him. Suddenly he nipped in and chipped the ball with his toe and before Gordon could look round it was in the net.

"It was an act of perfect timing, a sporting piece of genius. The referee was out of order. It was an injustice that the goal was disallowed."

Goalkeeper Gordon Banks passed away peacefully, as was announced by his family on Tuesday (February 12). He is survived by his wife Ursula, whom he met during his national service in Germany in 1955, and their three children, Robert, Wendy and Julia.

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