PETER BONETTI, one of England’s top goalkeepers of the 1960s and 1970s has died at the age of 78, after a long illness.
Nicknamed ‘The Cat,’ Bonetti had the misfortune of replacing the injured Gordon Banks in England’s 1970 Mexico World Cup quarter-final against West Germany in Leon.
He didn’t have the best of games by his very high standards as the Germans clawed back a two-nil deficit to win the tie
Bonetti was roasted by the media especially as they believed that England manager, Sir Alf Ramsey, should have plumped for Manchester United’s Alex Stepney to take over from Banks.
It was an unfortunate result for Bonetti to be remembered for by some football fans, as his long career was full of peerless moments, and he was in fact part of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad.
He made seven England appearances including that fateful 1970 Sunday match in Leon.
As well as playing 729 times for Chelsea, Bonetti also had brief spells at American side St Louis Stars, Dundee United and Woking FC during a career which spanned more than three decades.
Only former Chelsea captain Ron Harris has made more appearances for the Blues and Bonetti held the record for the most clean sheets until January 2014, when Petr Cech surpassed him.
He played an important role in Chelsea’s FA Cup final victory over Leeds United in 1970 and the club has described “his superhuman attempts to thwart the opposition” in front of a TV audience of more than 28 million people in the UK.
Bonetti also won the League Cup in 1965 and the Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971 with Chelsea.
He was voted runner-up in the 1969-70 Footballer of the Year award.
“Peter Bonetti’s position in the pantheon of Chelsea footballing gods is unassailable,” the club’s official website said.
“He was the Cat who broke the mould, defied the odds, drew the gasps, earned the cheers and got the cream. All in front of an adoring Stamford Bridge.
“All at Chelsea wish to send our heartfelt and deepest condolences to Peter’s family and friends.”