FORMER Saints goalkeeper Peter Shilton paid tribute to England’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks after he passed away aged 81.

A statement issued by former club Stoke on the Banks family’s behalf said: “It is with great sadness that we announce that Gordon passed away peacefully overnight.

“We are devastated to lose him but we have so many happy memories and could not have been more proud of him.

“We would ask that the privacy of the family is respected at this time.”

Ex-Saint Shilton succeeded Banks as the number one at Leicester, Stoke and England.

He said on Sky Sports: "Gordon was my hero when I was a youngster watching Leicester City on the terraces. I eventually joined the club and quickly became his understudy at 16. I trained with him for about a year once a week and he was always helpful, he was always a gentlemen. Then Leicester sold Gordon to Stoke and I took over.

"I was understudy in the England squad as well for a number of years and in that era, he was just a great goalkeeper. When you work with Gordon, it's bound to rub off on you a little bit. I always admired his positional play in that era. It was a different era for goalkeepers, different rules. But it was still the same job, keep the ball out of the net, and he was the best around at the time.

"We had a friendship - we were rivals as well, but we had a friendship - and it's just so tragic news that he's finally gone. I know he hadn't been very well, but it's hit me quite hard that he's actually passed away."

Banks made 510 league appearances for Chesterfield, Leicester - with whom he won the League Cup in 1964 - and Stoke before retiring from the professional game at the age of 34 following a road accident which cost him the sight in his right eye, although he later returned briefly to the sport in America.

But it was on the international stage that he established himself as a star, making his England debut in a 2-1 defeat by Scotland at Wembley in April 1963 and going on to win 73 senior caps, most famously in the 4-2 World Cup final victory over West Germany in 1966.

However, he will probably be best remembered for his heroics in Mexico four years later when he made the logic-defying save which was to define his career when he somehow managed to turn Brazil star Pele's header over the crossbar.