Chelsea goalkeeping legend Pet...


Chelsea goalkeeping legend Peter 'The Cat' Bonetti dies aged 78

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Chelsea have announced the passing of club legend Peter Bonetti at the age of 78 following a long-term illness.

An official statement released on Sunday by the Premier League club describes Bonetti as one of their "indisputably all-time great players".

The man widely known as 'The Cat' made 729 appearances in two separate stints playing for the Blues with only his captain, Ron Harris, turning out more times for the club.

In that time he won the League Cup and the FA Cup before going on to win the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1971.

The netminder, born in Putney in 1941, held the record for the most clean sheets - 208 in total - as a keeper at Stamford Bridge until he was surpassed by Czech Republic international Petr Cech.

He was also a World Cup medal winner with the England team, as back up to Gordon Banks, although he never made an appearance.

Forty-three years after being in England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad, Bonetti received his winners’ medal after a campaign by the Football Association to recognise the non-playing members of the squad.

His performances in the 1970 FA Cup final and replay against Leeds United are highly regarded - a series of crucial saves helped earn a 2-2 draw at Wembley.

He suffered a bad knee injury in the early stages of the replay at Old Trafford following a clash with Leeds forward Mick Jones.

Despite effectively playing on one leg for the rest of the match he again made crucial saves which helped the Londoners win the cup on a 2-1 scoreline.

The club statement reads: "He was the last line of defence during some of the truly great games.

"The image of our injured goalie and his superhuman attempts to thwart the opposition in the 1970 FA Cup final replay, 50 years ago this month, is one of the heroic images of that famous match, one that captivated a record TV audience of over 28 million viewers in the UK."

He did eventually appear on a World Cup stage and Bonetti acknowledged being at fault for the first goal England conceded in their 3-2 defeat to West Germany at the 1970 tournament in Mexico.

However he had been thrust into the starting team at the last minute after Gordon Banks fell ill - and a man that Banks knew well, Brazil legend Pele, was a big fan of Bonetti.

"The three greatest goalkeepers I have ever seen are Gordon Banks, Lev Yashin and Peter Bonetti," commented the Brazil superstar.

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Chelsea Gordon Banks Peter Bonetti Petr Cech Premier League Stamford Bridge

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