World Cup-winning goalkeeper Banks `quietly optimistic´…

England’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks has compared the current squad to the victorious 1966 team.

The former England international football goalkeeper said he is “quietly optimistic” for the team’s chances.

“The team is getting better and better with every game and that was the same with us in 1966 which is why I’m quietly optimistic,” he said.

The comments come as Banks urged England fans to support the Alzheimer’s Society charity.

He has backed the charity after seeing the “devastating” effects dementia had on his former team mates and his brother.

Three players from the 1966 squad have battled the disease including Martin Peters, Nobby Stiles and Ray Wilson, who died in May.

Banks, who was goalkeeper for the winning England squad, said that his former teammates had been “robbed” of the memories of holding the cup.

“I know from personal experience that dementia can be a really devastating condition because of the lads and because I lost my brother to Alzheimer’s and that’s why I am backing Alzheimer’s Society every step of the way till the day we find a cure for the blasted thing,” he said.

“When fans tune into the semi-final with Croatia, I just want them to spare a thought for my old team-mates who have been affected by dementia because they have been robbed of the wonderful memories the rest of the team had of that incredible experience in 1966.

“They are national treasures and should inspire us all to act.

“The way people are rallying around Gareth Southgate and his team makes me certain that we can find a cure for dementia if we stick together and really put our minds to the challenge ahead.”

On the tournament, he added: “So far, I’ve been enjoying every minute of this World Cup – it’s been a joy to watch this England side.

“It will be tough but I really think this England team have got what it takes to win it.

“The team is getting better and better with every game and that was the same with us in 1966 which is why I’m quietly optimistic.

“There are lots of similarities between us and them because they’re a humble lot who are in it together, they work hard for each other and there are no big superstars.”

Banks reserved special praise for England skipper Harry Kane, centre-back Harry Maguire and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

“In Harry Kane, they’ve got a captain who reminds me of Bobby Moore because of the way he leads by example – without much fuss.

“Harry Maguire makes me think of big Jack Charlton because of the way he loves heading the ball so much.

“But the player who’s stood out for me has to be Jordan Pickford in goals. He’s had to be at the top of his game with Jack Butland competing for a place.

“He’s really on form and he’s made some amazing saves. That one he tipped wide against Colombia was brilliant but the one he made low down against Sweden was really top-drawer.”

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Tragically, dementia is the UK’s biggest killer. It doesn’t care who you are and if it can affect sporting heroes like Martin Peters, Nobby Stiles and Ray Wilson. It could affect any one of us.

“Dementia can devastate lives, yet too many people face it alone, without adequate support, and we urgently need more funding – help us to improve care, offer support and understanding and find a cure.”

People can find out more about the charity and donate to it by visiting the Alzheimer’s Society’s website https://www.alzheimers.org.uk

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