Chelsea Legends (2): Peter Bonetti
Peter Phillip Bonetti was born on the 27th of September, 1941 in Putney. He was the son of Swiss parents who emigrated to England from the Alpine lakes of Italy.
He was signed to Chelsea from the Reading Youth team, after his mother wrote to Ted Drake, to request a trial. At 18 years of age, Peter made his Chelsea debut in a 3-0 win over Manchester City, in April of 1960. He quickly established himself as the number one choice of keeper, and was a part of the exciting young squad that won the league cup in 1965.
Being just 5' 11', he was quite short by goalkeeping standards, but he made up for this with his amazing agility and mobility, which was to earn him his nickname of 'The Cat'. He was not a very strong kicker, however he did possess an amazing throw, often managing to get the ball to a team mate in the opposition half with accuracy.
Many would consider the 1970 FA Cup final against Leeds United to be one of Bonetti's finest games in the royal blue of Chelsea. He managed to make a number of crucial saves in the first game, which ended up as a 2-2 draw, forcing a replay. In the replay, Peter was injured during the game by one of the Leeds players, and was forced to play out the game effectively on one leg. Shortly after the injury, Leeds scored, however he went on to make some brilliant saves, and Chelsea went on to win our first ever FA Cup.
With an outstanding 1969/1970 season, Peter would be runner up in the Football Writers Footballer of the year award, a big achievement for a keeper. The following year would see him pick up a Cup Winners Cup medal, after our famous victory over Real Madrid.
Sadly the club went rapidly into decline during the 70`s, however Peter remained the number one goalkeeping choice despite competition from John Phillips. Peter decided to end his time at Chelsea at the end of the 78/79 season. His career with the blues spanned 600 league games; 57 FA Cup games; 45 League Cup games and 26 European games making a total of 728 appearances for the club.
In retirement, Peter moved to the Isle of Mull, and he became a postman. He even came out of retirement to have a short spell with Dundee United, and went on to become a goalkeeping coach at several clubs.
Now in his 60's, Peter continues to play in goal at charity games. He will go down in history as one of, if not the best Chelsea keeper. A great man, and great on the pitch, his name will be etched in our clubs history for many years to come.
Contribution by Osgood_Spirit