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Peter Bonetti, most legendary Chelsea goalkeeper, has passed away


Soccer - Football League Division One - Chelsea Photocall Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

Sad news announced by Chelsea this morning. The one and only Peter Bonetti has passed away. He was 78 years old.

Nicknamed “The Cat”, thanks to his athleticism and reflexes, Bonetti is second on the club’s all-time appearances list with 729, and held most of the club’s goalkeeping records until Petr Čech came along. While never the tallest or the biggest, he was the coolest and bravest of goalkeepers. He pioneered the art of coming off his line to catch crosses, and broke the mould by throwing or rolling the ball out short rather than always hoof it upfield.

“The three greatest goalkeepers I have ever seen are Gordon Banks, Lev Yashin and Peter Bonetti.”

-Pelé; source: Chelsea FC

Soccer - FA Cup - Semi Final - Chelsea v Liverpool - Villa Park Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images

Chelsea’s official tribute also points out the many trophies local kid Bonetti collected during his time as a Chelsea and England player (7 caps behind Banks), including most famously the 1970 FA Cup, the first game of which was celebrating its 50th anniversary just yesterday. He won promotion twice with the Blues from the second division (1963, 1977), while adding the League Cup (1965), the FA Youth Cup (1960), and the 1971 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup to what was then a much less overloaded trophy cabinet.

After hanging up his boots, Bonetti took up coaching at Chelsea, serving as the club’s goalkeeper coach throughout the ‘80s and into the early ‘90s. He also had brief spells on the coaching staffs of England, Fulham, and Newcastle. In later years, he often played for Chelsea Old Boys teams while serving as a club ambassador and matchday host as well before an illness restricted his activities.

A true legend, a Chelsea football god.

R.I.P. Peter Bonetti.

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