PETER Downsborough will be best remembered at City for his knack of saving penalties.

The goalkeeping mainstay in the 1976 FA Cup quarter-finalists and promotion winners the following year passed away on Thursday aged 76 after a long illness.

For six seasons, Downsborough was a virtual ever-present between the posts at Valley Parade making 225 appearances.

Not the tallest of keepers, he proved an excellent shot-stopper – particularly from 12 yards out.

For those who believe mind games are a thing of the modern era, left back Ian Cooper described how Downsborough used to psyche out the penalty taker.

“He used to just stand there on his line and watch for the player,” Cooper recalled. “The minute they looked up, he’d feign to go one way and then go the other.

“The number of penalties he saved just by doing that. He would just put them off a bit and almost invite them to shoot the way he wanted.

“But he had that presence about him. He was a goalkeeper who would just instil confidence.”

Halifax-born Downsborough had already enjoyed a memorable career when he returned to West Yorkshire from Swindon in 1973.

He had played a starring role in Swindon’s shock League Cup final win over Arsenal four years earlier, the history makers of their time.

“For a quarter of an hour it was Downsborough versus Arsenal and Downsborough won,” wrote one national reporter.

Downsborough was 30 when he signed for City and immediately became as regular a name on the team sheet as Cooper, Joe Cooke and Ces Podd.

“From day one, you knew there was something different about him,” said Cooper.

“It was the way Peter carried himself and the things he did. He wasn’t the greatest trainer but if it had been in this day and age when goalkeepers have their own personal coach, I imagine he'd have done even better.

“The League Cup was mentioned and everybody knew about his exploits, he'd virtually won that for them. But it wasn’t something that was brought up on a regular basis, it was just part of Peter.

“The players were more concerned with how he did for us – and he was incredibly consistent. He certainly didn’t make many mistakes.”

Like most keepers, Downsborough fancied himself as an outfield player and would occasionally line up in training at centre forward, where he had started as a youngster.

But between the posts there was no argument.

Cooper added: “When we were doing the serious stuff and he was in goals, trying to get past him wasn’t the easiest feat.

“He was an imposing figure and tended to make people go the way he wanted them to. When you get a good goalkeeper, it gives confidence to the lads playing in front of him.

“He wasn’t loud but you always knew he was there and he had a very dry sense of humour."

Downsborough played in the first match covered by the long-serving Telegraph & Argus City reporter David Markham – a 1-1 draw at Reading in November 1974.

Markham said: “We think of professional footballers as superstars but the first impression I had of Peter was of a modest man just doing a job of work – trying to make sure the opposing team did not score a goal – nothing more, nothing less than that.

“He was self-effacing, which made him difficult to interview, but he was proud of his performances and totally dedicated to his job.

“His main strengths were as a superb shot saver and his bravery. He would leave his line to dive at an opponent’s feet without a thought for his own safety."

Downsborough missed 21 games of his last season, 1978-79, through injury and retired at the end of the campaign.

Valley Parade staged a testimonial for him against Huddersfield the following year but he was not fit to play and limped round the pitch on crutches thanking fans for their support.

Club author John Dewhirst recalled meeting Downsborough working as a handyman in Halifax soon after the fire.

"Having been a childhood hero I was completely in awe of him," he admitted.

“I discovered Peter to be an incredibly modest and warm individual, keen to share what were obviously fond memories."