Peter Bonetti said being a member of the 1966 team was “an unforgettable experience of a thrilling three weeks that made being part of England’s triumph a soccer memory I shall never forget.” (Photo from World Cup Winners 1966)

Former England international goalkeeper Peter Bonetti, a member of the 1966 World Cup championship team, has passed away after a long illness.

He was 78.

Bonetti performed for the St. Louis Stars in the North American Soccer League in 1975.

Nicknamed The Cat for his reflexes, Bonetti made seven international appearances and was a member of the Chelsea team that won the English FA Cup in 1970.

Bonetti is second to Ron Harris, the all-time appearance list for Chelsea with 729 games from 1959-79. He secured 208 shutouts, which was surpassed by Petr Cech in 2014.

Though he was part of the 1966 English side, Bonetti never got an opportunity to play in 1966 as Gordon Banks guarded the goal in each match. In fact, Bonetti did not receive a winners medal until 2009.

“I didn’t get a World Cup winners medal with England last July, but as one of the reserves to that great team I did get something almost as fulfilling,” Bonetti wrote in the book, World Cup Winners 1966, “an unforgettable experience of a thrilling three weeks that made being part of England’s triumph a soccer memory I shall never forget.

“During those heady days of success before and just after the final, there was never a time when those unfortunate enough not to play in any of the cup matches, were not made to feel as important as those who won so well for England against the West Germans.

“It was this for me, that the secret of our success about winning the title of world champions was all about.”