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Chelsea announces death of legendary goalkeeper, Peter Bonetti



Chelsea announces death of legendary goalkeeper, Peter Bonetti


Chelsea have announced the death of former goalkeeper Peter Bonetti, who passed away at the age of 78 after a battle with long-term illness.

The man nicknamed ‘The Cat’ due to his superb reflexes between the sticks featured in 729 games for Chelsea over the course of two spells at the club, putting him second in the club’s list of all-time appearances behind Ron Harris.

He helped Chelsea to win the 1965 League Cup, the 1970 FA Cup, and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971.

In a lengthy tribute statement on their website, Chelsea said: “Peter Bonetti’s position in the pantheon of Chelsea footballing gods is unassailable. 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.”

Born in Putney, Bonetti came through the Chelsea youth system along with fellow future Blues stars Bobby Tambling and Terry Venables, and made his first-team debut aged just 18 in a 3-0 victory over Manchester City in April 1960 – the first of 208 clean sheets he would keep for the club.

Bonetti held the record for the most clean sheets as a Chelsea goalkeeper until January 2014, when Petr Cech surpassed him.

He was first choice for the Blues through the 1960s and 70s.

He was also one of the first goalkeepers to wear gloves – initially sporting gardening gloves during matches, he later had his own Peter Bonetti-branded kit of the type which is now synonymous with the position in the modern game.

After retiring, Bonetti continued to be a pioneer for the Blues, appointed as their first-ever specialist goalkeeper coach in 1983.
He also worked with the England national team at the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Bonetti also won seven caps for England, and served as number two behind Gordon Banks during the team’s run to glory at the 1966 World Cup. After an FA-led campaign years later which persuaded FIFA to reward every squad member, Bonetti was presented with a medal by Prime Minister Gordon Brown at Downing Street in 2009.

As well as Chelsea, Bonetti also had a brief spell with US side St. Louis Stars in the North American Soccer League, and finished his career with a season at Dundee United.

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