Chelsea goalkeeping great Peter Bonetti dies after long illness

Peter Bonetti was Chelsea's number one goalkeeper for many years and was picked by England for the 1966 and 1970 World Cup squads.

Chelsea goalkeeping great Peter Bonetti dies after long illness

Chelsea announced this afternoon that former goalkeeper Peter Bonetti has died at the age of 78. A member of England's 1966 World Cup-winning squad, Bonetti made 729 appearances for the Blues, putting him second only on the club's all-time list to Ron Harris. Putney-born Bonetti died after a long-term illness, Chelsea said.

Chelsea mourn Bonetti loss

"All at Chelsea wish to send our heartfelt and deepest condolences to Peter's family and friends," the Premier League club said. Chelsea said they were "hugely saddened" by the news and described Bonetti as "one of our indisputably all-time great players".

He kept 208 clean sheets for Chelsea, a club record that stood until it was broken by Petr Cech in 2014. Known as The Cat for his great agility and reflexes, Bonetti won the 1970 FA Cup with Chelsea as well as the European Cup Winners' Cup in the following year and the 1965 League Cup. He battled injury in the FA Cup final replay as Chelsea came from behind to beat Leeds United 2-1 after extra time.

FILES-FBL-ENG-CHELSEA-BONETTIPeter Bonetti, back row third from left between Jimmy Greaves and Nobby Stiles after England's win over Denmark in a pre-World Cup friendly in July 1966.

Bonetti second-choice to Gordon Banks

Bonetti was called up but not used by England manager Alf Ramsey in the 1966 World Cup due to Gordon Banks' tight grip on the number one shirt, but he replaced the unwell Banks for the 1970 quarter-final against West Germany which the holders lost 3-2 after extra-time. That match saw England surrender a 2-0 lead with Bonetti widely criticised for the error that allowed Franz Beckenbauer to begin West Germany's comeback. Uwe Seeler levelled the score with eight minutes of normal time remaining and Gerd Müller hit the winner in the second period of extra-time.

Chelsea, in an appreciation of Bonetti on Sunday, contended that Bonetti "shouldered an unfair proportion of the national blame for the defeat".