Peter Bonetti and death in the afternoon

Game of the People

Chelsea’s Peter Bonetti was a fine goalkeeper: agile, occasionally flashy, brave and consistent. But for World Cup winner Gordon Banks, he would have won more than his seven England caps – and this was in an age when decent English-born custodians came off the production line like Ford Cortinas.

Unfortunately for Bonetti,  he will be remembered by fans from most clubs for one career-defining and steamy afternoon in Mexico more than his long and successful tenure in the Chelsea goal. It is a disaster invariably mentioned when England meet Germany.  Bonetti has rarely spoken of that World Cup quarter-final tie – the moment that England let go of the Jules Rimet trophy, never to get a glimpse of it again – and in interviews, he’s not pressed on the subject. Some people trace the decline of the England national team to that very game: England 2 West Germany 3, June…

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