Former Chelsea goalkeeper Peter Bonetti dies at age 78

He died suffering from long-term illness

LONDON — Peter Bonetti, the former Chelsea and England goalkeeper nicknamed “The Cat” for his outstanding reflexes and agility, has died. He was 78.

Bonetti died after suffering from long-term illness, Chelsea said Sunday.

He kept 208 clean sheets in 729 appearances for the London club over two spells from 1960-75 and 1977-79.

Only Ron Harris, with 795, has made more appearances for the club.

Chelsea said Bonetti was “one of our indisputably all-time great players.”

“Small for his position on the pitch but with an aura of glamor,” Chelsea said of Bonetti, “he was technically innovative and incredibly plucky. The Cat, as he was widely known, was the reassuring security among many mavericks in a golden era for Chelsea.”

Bonetti made seven appearances for England, including in the 1970 World Cup finals. He was in the 1966 World Cup-winning squad but did not play, belatedly receiving a winner’s medal in June 2009.

Bonetti was twice promoted to the First Division with Chelsea and won the 1964-65 League Cup, 1970 FA Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971.

His Chelsea spells were separated by a brief stint in the United States with St Louis Stars.

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