Peter Bonetti: Former Chelsea and England goalkeeper dies aged 78

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Former Chelsea and England goalkeeper Peter Bonetti has died aged 78 after a long illness.

Bonetti was described by Chelsea as a “goalkeeping superstar of the 1960s and 1970s” and “one of our indisputably all-time great players”.

He was part of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad but was unused throughout the tournament.

Bonetti made seven England appearances and featured in the 1970 World Cup quarter-final defeat by West Germany.

As well as playing 729 times for Chelsea, Bonetti also had brief spells at American side St Louis Stars, Dundee United and Woking FC during a career which spanned more than three decades.

Only former Chelsea captain Ron Harris has made more appearances for the Blues and Bonetti held the record for the most clean sheets until January 2014, when Petr Cech surpassed him.

Peter Bonetti
Bonetti with former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech in 2008

He played an important role in Chelsea’s FA Cup final victory over Leeds United in 1970 and the club has described “his superhuman attempts to thwart the opposition” in front of a TV audience of more than 28m people in the UK.

Bonetti also won the League Cup in 1965 and the Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971 with Chelsea.

Nicknamed ‘The Cat’ by former team-mate Ron Tindall, he was voted runner-up in the 1969-70 Footballer of the Year award.

Later in life, Bonetti took up roles as a goalkeeping coach at Chelsea and England as well as working with Kevin Keegan at Manchester City, Newcastle United and Fulham.

“Peter Bonetti’s position in the pantheon of Chelsea footballing gods is unassailable,” the club’s official website said.

“He was the Cat who broke the mould, defied the odds, drew the gasps, earned the cheers and got the cream. All in front of an adoring Stamford Bridge.

“All at Chelsea wish to send our heartfelt and deepest condolences to Peter’s family and friends.”

FA Chairman Greg Clarke said: “I am very saddened to hear that Peter Bonetti has passed away. Part of our 1966 World Cup-winning squad, he was not only a wonderful goalkeeper but also a hugely-popular figure in the English game.

“Of course, he served Chelsea to distinction over many years, and as a young boy I can remember watching his superb performance in their 1965 League Cup win against Leicester City. My thoughts are with his family and friends today.”

Peter Shilton, England’s most capped player, also paid tribute to Bonetti. He wrote on Twitter: “I was in the 1970 World Cup squad with Peter as a lad he was a hero of mine a tremendous player and a true gentleman. RIP Goalie.”

Former Chelsea captain John Terry added: “I’m heartbroken. A Chelsea legend and hero.”

‘Terrific goalkeeper, delightful bloke’ – RIP The Cat

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