x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

With ten days to go until kick off, we pick our all-time XI, starting with Gordon Banks

Russia's Lev Yashin arrived at the 1966 World Cup in England holding the reputation as the world's best goalkeeper. By the end of that tournament the host nation's Gordon Banks had staked a claim to usurp him and four years later surpassed him.

Russia's Lev Yashin arrived at the 1966 World Cup in England holding the reputation as the world's best goalkeeper. By the end of that tournament the host nation's Gordon Banks had staked a claim to usurp him and four years later surpassed him. Banks, a pivotal figure in England's only World Cup triumph, held high hopes of helping Alf Ramsey, his manager, repeat the feat in Mexico in 1970 when his country were regarded to have an even stronger squad.

His remarkable reaction save from Pele, the legendary Brazilian striker, in a group match that year is considered to be the best of all time. England looked on course to meet Brazil again in the final until two crucial incidents adversely affected the result of their quarter-final against West Germany, whom they had defeated in the Wembley final four years previously. The withdrawal of the influential Bobby Charlton by Ramsey when England were in control proved a costly mistake but the absence of Banks from that game in Leon turned out to be decisive.

Banks was struck down with food poisoning on the eve of the match - many felt he had been deliberately "nobbled" - and Peter Bonetti, his deputy, let in three late goals, the last of them in extra time, to allow the Germans to claim an unexpected semi-final place against Italy. wjohnson@thenational.ae