Jack: ‘Gordon Was My Inspiration’

Jack Butland

JACK BUTLAND has paid his own tribute to the man he came to know as a friend and inspiration.

Butland and manager Nathan Jones visited the Gordon Banks Statue at the bet365 Stadium earlier today to read the tributes left by supporters following the death of the iconic goalkeeper overnight at the age of 81.

City’s current No.1 had become close friends with the World Cup winner in recent years and is proud of the ‘special connection’ they had.

He said: “I’ve known Gordon fairly well and it was an absolute honour to have met him first of all.

“He had a way of bringing happiness and anyone who knew Gordon will tell you, first and foremost, what a great person he was, what a gentleman he was and how he had this knack of making people happy.”

Asked if Banks had been an inspiration to him, Butland replied: “Massively so. I obviously wasn’t around in 1966 or the Pele save four years later but to get to know him over the last few years, to be allowed into his house and have him take me through his medal collection, I’ve had a special connection.

“I’m extremely sad but he was fighting a horrible illness that he tackled like he did with everything in football. It’s a shame that we’ve lost a great of English football.

“It was special for everyone at the football club to have that connection with him. At England level and club level it’s an honour. It’s humbling to have had the chance to meet him.

“It’s someone who you can see meant a great deal to the community and local area and people are lying down flowers and messages today.

“Beyond what he achieved as a player, he was twice the man. Anyone that knows him will tell you that. He had a way of making anyone feel better. He was an incredibly generous man, a humble man, a family man. Everything he did was to the best of his ability.

“He was the centre of attention but didn’t swallow it, he made everyone around him happy, uplifted everyone.”