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Peter Shilton showed great promise as a goalkeeper from an early age. He replaced World Cup winner Gordon Banks in goal for Leicester City when he was just aged 17. For most of the 1970s his main rival for the position of England goalkeeper was Ray Clemence, but the appointment of Bobby Robson as England coach in 1982 meant that Shilton became the automatic choice as England goalie every time.
Despite his obvious qualities, though, Shilton had his critics. Some blamed him for Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" goal in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final, when the short Argentinian managed to jump high and punch the ball past Shilton and into the net. And then, in the 1990 World Cup, more questions were asked of 40-year-old Shilton when, in the semi-final against West Germany, England went behind to a deflected free-kick that sailed over Shilton's head. Also, in the penalty shootout that ensued, Shilton decided to wait for every West German penalty to be struck before reacting to them. After England lost the shootout, some suggested that, had he speculated, he would have stood a better chance of making a save.
These criticisms, however, should not be allowed to obscure the fact that he was widely accepted as one of world football's most outstanding goalkeepers for many years. The 1990 World Cup marked the end of a very long England career in which he had accumulated 125 caps, more than any other player. He was awarded an MBE in 1986 and an OBE in 1991. He was, without question, a dedicated professional who was appreciated by the many coaches he played for and the many players who relied on him as the last line of defence. Many young goalkeepers still name him as an inspiration