Peter Bonetti - Chelsea FC - League appearances.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 01 January 1978

Click on image to enlarge

      Saturday, 27 September 1941
      London, England.
  • England
  • Chelsea FC
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 2nd April 1960 in a 3-0 win at home to Manchester City (Aged: 18)
    • Club Career
      600 League apps
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Peter BONETTI - Chelsea FC - League appearances.

Peter Bonetti is pictured during Chelsea's 2-2 draw against

West Bromwich Albion.


Chelsea:   1959-1960     Played   6     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1960-1961     Played   36     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1961-1962     Played   33     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1962-1963     Played   39     Scored   0   goals   (Division 2)
     1963-1964     Played   35     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1964-1965     Played   41     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1965-1966     Played   38     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1966-1967     Played   38     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1967-1968     Played   40     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1968-1969     Played   41     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1969-1970     Played   36     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1970-1971     Played   28     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1971-1972     Played   33     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1972-1973     Played   23     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1973-1974     Played   20     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1974-1975     Played   8     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1975-1976     Played   27     Scored   0   goals   (Division 2)
     1976-1977     Played   31     Scored   0   goals   (Division 2)
     1977-1978     Played   31     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)
     1978-1979     Played   16     Scored   0   goals   (Division 1)


1960–1975    Chelsea    495    (0)

1975             St. Louis Stars    21    (0)
1976–1979    Chelsea    105    (0)
1979             Dundee United    5    (0)

1986             Woking    2    (0)


Total        628 games.


National team.

1966–1970    England    7    (0)



Goalkeeper Peter Bonetti is pictured playing for Chelsea Football Club during their 1-1 draw with

Leicester City on 16th August 1972 at Filbert Street.  Photograph George Herringshaw.  ©


. .

                                                                            (Part 1) 1966-1970.

'The Cat', of course, and a player worshipped and resolutely defended by Chelsea supporters who saw a classy, consistent and agile goalkeeper. England fans saw Peter Bonetti slightly differently, but only after the performance which earned him a seventh and, perhaps unluckily but not surprisingly, final cap and contributed partly (but not exclusively - an unfair assertion which has become received wisdom of stunning inaccuracy) to England's exit from the 1970 World Cup and relinquishment of the title and trophy. The image of mortality which enveloped Gordon Banks meant that his sickened digestive system and consequent unavailability for the quarter-final in Leon against West Germany prompted England fans and sympathisers to fear the worst, whoever happened to be the next in line to become the nation's custodian. The three goals conceded by Bonetti from 2-0 up are etched painfully still on the memory, although Bonetti himself only claimed the blame for one, and was almost certainly right to do so; the issue therefore became one of whether Banks would have saved the three efforts on goal which West Germany scored, and only the first goal - the one for which Bonetti accepted culpability - would probably have been kept out by England's first-choice keeper. Arguments would then rage about whether the Germans would ever have scored as a result of Banks making a save which Bonetti didn't, but then hypothetical scenarios bear no resemblence to fact and the ease with which Franz Beckenbauer took over the running of the game to score that opening goal was a coaching issue which Alf Ramsey exacerbated further by dragging off a tiring Bobby Charlton, who had previously occupied Beckenbauer's time. And Banks made mistakes in his career too - the problem for Bonetti was that Banks was an iconic, indispensible figure in the England team who was at the top of his game and in peak physical condition for a goalkeeper at 32 years of age.


Bonetti was nearly 29 but only six caps to the good, although his debut in 1966 was a fine 2-0 win over Denmark in the penultimate friendly before the homegrown World Cup at which Bonetti was third-choice keeper and naturally didn't clutch a ball in anger or glee. He played in two friendlies amidst the busy European Nations qualifiers (which were also the Home Internationals in the days before fixture congestion) and kept two more clean sheets; finally conceding a goal in his first competitive game as England beat Spain 2-1 in Madrid to go through to the European semis 3-1 on aggregate. With no need to qualify for the 1970 World Cup, Ramsey had room to remind himself of the qualities of those scribbled on the Banks understudy list. Bonetti vied with Alex Stepney and Gordon West for the role, and although West picked up a couple of caps in this period, Peter ended the year with two appearances in a row and two more clean sheets. So, by the time Ramsey selected his final 22, Bonetti was six caps in and had only conceded one England goal - now suddenly it's more than understandable why he was a bonafide deputy to Banks. The bigger controversy at the time was the decision to take Stepney - one cap, and no more to come - as third keeper ahead of West, who had played more and was a League title winner with Everton that year. Ultimately both probably expressed rueful private gratitude that they weren't Bonetti. (Matthew Rudd)

























                                                       (Part 2) 1970 World Cup.


So, Peter Bonetti gamely took a place on the bench in the event of catastrophe and duly stayed there for all three group games as England beat Romania, lost heroically to Brazil (complete with a Banks save which made his standing even more unbearable for anyone who might have to replace him) and then swatted aside the Czechs to bring West Germany back into view for the quarter-finals. Banks then succumbed to a stomach bug (the origins of which has been long debated by theorists, bearing in mind the contempt shown to the England team by the locals) which forced him into frequent and long trips to the bathroom and although he perked up a little on the morning of the game and had a short fitness test, Ramsey was unconvinced and sent him back to bed. Prior to the squad's departure for the stadium, Ramsey casually told Bonetti he was playing, having privately muttered in a frustrated manner to his coaching entourage "why did it have to be him?" on the subject of Banks' demise. Bonetti had featured in a decade's worth of games for Chelsea, including Wembley finals, without having a long list of calamitous incidents which folk could call upon when news of his selection ahead of the nauseous Banks was released. His only real problem was that he was not Gordon Banks. Nonetheless, he had the confidence of a coach who had rarely been proved wrong on a tactical or selection level (the wingless wonders and the deselection of Jimmy Greaves four years earlier gave Ramsey ample vindication to fend off Press concerns) and Bonetti lined up with his team-mates for the game. For him, much of it was pedestrianised as England dominated the first half, defended stoutly and toughly, and took the lead through Alan Mullery. Early in the second half, Geoff Hurst and Keith Newton combined to set up a second for Martin Peters and Bonetti's big day looked more comfortable, to the extent that Banks, watching on his hotel TV, seriously wondered whether he would be selected for the semi-finals once he'd proved his fitness.


Then the tide turned, and the unpractised Bonetti suddenly needed to start keeping goal for real. Beckenbauer's rare run, with Charlton still on the pitch, saw him get a second effort on goal after his first dig from distance was blocked back to him and he struck a targetted but not brilliantly hit right footer towards the far corner, which saw Bonetti position himself too slowly and dive over the ball in the end when he realised his misjudgement in the split-second which followed. Ramsey then withdrew Charlton and released Beckenbauer's capacity to take over a game. There were 12 minutes left when England conceded an equaliser thanks to Uwe Seeler's unconventional backward header which looped over Bonetti and into the net. The softness of this goal reflected badly on Bonetti, who later - quite rightly - described it as a "freak". In extra-time, there was poor marking and obvious fatigue in the England defence as a cross from the right flank was headed back on to Gerd Muller's deadly instep and Bonetti made an effort to anticipate the close range shot's trajectory but in truth had no prayer. England went out, and Peter has lived with the criticism ever since; some of it justified, much of it consistently over-egged. The emergence of Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence made it easy for Ramsey to cross Bonetti off his list of goalkeepers afterwards (although West and Stepney never came back either, which mitigated Peter's omission) and Bonetti was left to defend himself. History remains unkind to him but he wasn't the man who lost England the World Cup and never will be. (Matthew Rudd)