Peter Phillip Bonetti (born 27 September 1941 in Putney, London of Swiss parents from Canton Ticino) was a football goalkeeper for Chelsea, the St. Louis Stars, Dundee United and England. Bonetti was known for his safe handling, lightning reflexes and his graceful style, for which he was given the nickname, "The Cat". He was one of several goalkeepers (Gordon West of Everton was another) who specialised in a one-armed throw which could achieve a similar distance to a drop kick.
The new Chelsea side challenged for honours during the 1960s, with Bonetti a key figure throughout, although more often than not the team narrowly missed out. Chelsea won the League Cup in 1965 with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Leicester City. Leicester put Chelsea under heavy pressure in the second leg at Filbert Street, but an inspired performance from Bonetti helped secure a 0-0 draw for his side and thus the trophy. For most of the same season, Chelsea were on course to add both the league title and the FA Cup but ultimately missed out. They were beaten by Liverpool in the FA Cup while the title challenge was ended with a few games left after a bust-up between Docherty and several of his first-team players - though not Bonetti - meaning that a much-weakened team was fielded in a key match against Burnley, in which Bonetti conceded six goals.
Bonetti played in every game of Chelsea's Fairs Cup run the following season, putting in a series of impressive displays against the likes of AS Roma, AC Milan and FC Barcelona, though the side were eventually knocked out in the semi-finals, as they were in the FA Cup for the second consecutive year. The signing of Alex Stepney at the end of that season briefly threatened his position as Chelsea's first choice goalkeeper and he considered putting in a transfer request, but Stepney ultimately played only one game for the club and was sold to Manchester United a few months later. Chelsea eventually reached an FA Cup final in 1967, where they faced Tottenham Hotspur, but the team underperformed on the day and Bonetti could do little to stop Spurs winning 2-1.
That was the closest he came to winning another trophy with Chelsea until 1970, by which time Docherty had been succeeded by Dave Sexton. In 1970, Chelsea again reached the FA Cup final and this time faced reigning league champions Leeds United. Over the two fiercely contested games, Bonetti had what was perhaps the finest moment of his playing career. Chelsea were outplayed for large spells in the first final at Wembley and he made a series of crucial saves to help them emerge with a 2-2 draw. Shortly into the replay at Old Trafford, his left knee was badly injured after a challenge from Leeds' Mick Jones. He returned to the field after treatment, but was effectively playing on one leg for the rest of the match and was powerless to stop Jones scoring the opener a few minutes later. In spite of the injury, and being targeted by the Leeds forwards, he made crucial saves throughout the match, denying both Peter Lorimer and Terry Cooper, and resisted more pressure from Leeds after Chelsea had taken the lead in extra time to help secure a 2-1 win. Such were Bonetti's performances that season, he was voted runner-up in the FWA Footballer of the Year awards.
A year later, the team added the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup after another replayed win in the final, this time over Spanish giants Real Madrid in Athens. Chelsea took a 2-0 lead in the replay, but Real dominated for much of the second half and it was another inspired performance from Bonetti, who had missed a large part of that season through injury, which helped them hold on for a 2-1 win.
That was his last trophy with the club, although they narrowly missed out on more in the following years, losing in the 1972 League Cup final to Stoke City and in the semi-finals of the same competition to Norwich City a year later. Financial and disciplinary problems within the club prevented them from building on their success and Bonetti left on a free transfer in 1975, joining the St. Louis Stars of the North American Soccer League (NASL). That year, he played 21 games for the side and helped them top the Central Division that summer and reach the play-off semi-finals. He then returned to Chelsea, where his experience proved invaluable in helping new manager Eddie McCreadie's young side gain promotion in 1976-77. Two years later, in May 1979, he played his final game for Chelsea, a 1-1 draw with Arsenal, having made a total of 729 appearances for the club in nineteen years – only Ron Harris has made more – and kept over 200 clean sheets. He conceded one goal or less in two-thirds of his games for Chelsea.
Since 2005, Bonetti has made several appearances for an Old England XI in various charity games, notably against celebrity sides, usually coming on for the last 10 minutes of each game.
On the 12th November 2007, He took part in the limited edition autobiography CD series called 60 minutes with Peter Bonetti when he was interviewed by David Knight. Peter spoke in detail about his historical career including tales from the 1966 world cup winning squad (info from www.60mins.tv)