I, Gordon Banks

By Alberto Adler

A few days ago, my father died.

Any attempt to describe the mix of pain and absence is futile, so I won’t talk about my grief (right now).

I’ll talk about how small words can make a difference when comforting someone.

When I was 5 years old, Brazil was a three-time world football champion. It was 1970, the team ‘Canarinho’ was the best of all times, and at home games, everyone wanted to be Pele, Tostão, Jairzinho, or Rivelino.

And I was bad on the line. So, I wasn’t excluded from kid’s friendly games, but I was always chosen for the goal. It was frustrating.

On Sundays, returning home after a day at the club, my father always asked if I had scored any goals and I, embarrassed, replied that I had played as a goalkeeper. Of course, my mother and sisters understood that goalkeepers don’t score. But my father understood why kids were chosen to play as goalkeepers: I had a wooden leg (a calamity). And I knew that he knew.

One day, however, while I was crying because I wanted to play on the line and not in the goal, a boy about three years older, explained to me that great players played as a goalie, Gordon Banks, for example.

Banks was England’s fantastic goalkeeper, the best in the world, almost stopped Pele and company. If all played Carlos Alberto, Gerson, and Piazza during our games, why wouldn’t I play Banks?

So, I did. And for a while, it worked.

But, in 1972, Gordon Banks lost sight in one eye in a car accident. It was a catastrophe in terms of the nickname.

I, who was at that point even a reasonable goalkeeper, had suddenly become Gordon Banks, the one-eyed goalkeeper.

This episode forced me to go back and insist on playing on the line.

I was never a star, but it wasn’t as bad as it was painted at the time of the World Cup. Over time, the Banks moniker faded away.

However, during this painful time, when they came to hug me and pay their respects, some friends called me Banks.

The nickname has nothing to do with football anymore. Instead, it was a condensed and affectionate way of saying, “we’ve been friends for a long time.” A childhood nickname welcomes, comforts, and rescues feelings of belonging.

Gordon Banks? Yes, it is me. I’m still myself.

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Alberto Adler is a Brazilian Scholar, a Visionary. He is a Pos-Graduation Professor. Adler is also a Business Mentor and a Leadership coach.

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Alberto Adler

Alberto Adler

Alberto Adler is a Brazilian Scholar, a Visionary. He is a Pos-Graduation Professor. Adler is also a Business Mentor and a Leadership coach.

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