The PFA is saddened by the passing of former Chelsea and England Goalkeeper Peter Bonetti.
Bonetti passed away on Easter Sunday aged 78, after a long-term battle with illness.
Bonetti, commonly known in the football world as 'the cat' thanks to his graceful style and sharp reflexes, he became a superstar goalkeeper of the 60's and 70's, making 729 appearances for Chelsea during their golden era across a career spanning almost 20 years, from April 1960 to May 1979. With a short stint at St Louis Stars in 1975, Bonetti returned to Chelsea and made more than 100 appearances before a short spell at both Dundee United and Woking.
Making his Chelsea debut at aged just 18, following a request for a trial in a letter from his Mother to the club, he became a key figure in a talented side under Tommy Docherty that included Terry Venables and Peter Osgood. Helping win the the FA Youth Cup for the first time in 1961 with a victory over Everton, Bonetti went on to help the blues back into top flight football following their relegation the previous season. In 1965, Bonetti was a pivotal figure of the Blue's side winning their first knockout trophy with a two legged win over Leicester in the League Cup and a key part of Chelsea's third place finish in the league.
Perhaps the defining moment of Bonetti's career was in the 1970 FA cup final, he put on a magnificent display to secure replay with a 2-2 draw against Leeds, during which he then battled through an early injury in the game to help with Chelsea's 2-1 win, secured with David Webb's injury time goal. Bonetti continued to be an instrumental player for Chelsea throughout the 1970's, an essential part of the Blue's win in the 1971 European Cup Winner's Cup, following a 2-1 victory over Real Madrid in the replay in Greece.
Bonetti made 7 appearances for England, conceding just one goal in his first six games, and was a member of the England 1966 World Cup Squad, one of three goalkeepers alongside Gordon Banks and Ron Springett and was presented with a winners medal at a ceremony in Downing Street in June 2009.
Bonetti stood at just under 6 foot tall but this did not stop him being a innovator in the art of goalkeeping; throwing the ball to a fellow teammate in blue rather than the traditional 'hoofing' the ball up-field, he would often bravely come off his line and catch high balls within his penalty area. He was also the first to recognise the use of gloves in the winter months for handling slippery footballs, creating his own Bonetti-branded gloves, which proved to be so popular and successful, they were worn by fellow keeps at the top level of the English game up and down the country. Following his retirement from the game, Bonetti later returned to Stamford Bridge as a goalkeeping coach, with his stature so revered within the football community, he also later worked with Manchester City, Newcastle United and Everton.
The thoughts of everyone at the PFA are with Peter's family and friends during this difficult time.