Chelsea have confirmed the tragic passing of legendary goalkeeper Peter Bonetti.
The 78-year-old had been suffering with a long illness before his passing, a club statement revealed.
Bonetti made 729 appearances for the west London outfit and is undoubtedly one of the finest players in the club’s history.
Chelsea FC today said: “Our former goalkeeper had been suffering from long-term illness. All at Chelsea wish to send our heartfelt and deepest condolences to Peter’s family and friends.”
“Bonetti was a goalkeeping superstar of the 1960s and 1970s. Small for his position on the pitch but with an aura of glamour, he was technically innovative and incredibly plucky.
Peter Bonetti has passed away aged 78
“The Cat, as he was widely known, was the reassuring security among many mavericks in a golden era for Chelsea.”
Bonetti was recommended to Chelsea for a trial after one of his family wrote to the club.
The stopper made his first-team debut at the age of 18 and never looked back.
Team-mate Ron Tindall created the infamous ‘The Cat’ nickname and stuck from that day onwards due to Bonetti’s athleticism and reflexes.
Peter Bonetti made 729 appearances for Chelsea
Bonetti represented England and was included in the infamous 1966 World Cup winning side.
However, Gordon Banks’ brilliance kept him out of the side, meaning he was unused by Alf Ramsey.
Only the 11 first-team players on the pitch at the end of the 1966 final were awarded medals for their exploits.
Peter Bonetti was awarded his World Cup winners’ medal after an FA campaign
But an FA-led campaign many years later that persuaded FIFA to reward every squad member with a medal, meaning Bonetti finally collected one.
Brazil legend Pele was clearly a fan of the Chelsea stopper too.
“The three greatest goalkeepers I have ever seen are Gordon Banks, Lev Yashin and Peter Bonetti,” said the footballing icon.