Pioneering US international Banks dies at 54: federation

Former United States international Jimmy Banks, a member of the USA's 1990 World Cup squad, died on Friday after a battle with cancer. He was 54.

The United States Soccer Federation said in a statement Banks had passed away in hospital in Milwaukee where he had been treated for pancreatic cancer.

Banks, who won 36 caps for the United States between 1986 and 1991, was one of the first African-Americans to play for the national team.

"The entire US Soccer family is deeply saddened by the passing of Jimmy Banks," United States Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro said.

"At a time when few African American players were reaching the elite level of the sport, Jimmy's rise to play for the US Men's National Team at the 1990 World Cup inspired a new generation to reach the same level."

Banks, who was born in Milwaukee, took up football as a six-year-old through a Salvation Army program.

He made two appearances for the US at the 1990 World Cup, playing in narrow defeats to hosts Italy and Austria.

Although he graced football's biggest stage, Banks never played outdoor football professionally, his domestic career pre-dating the advent of Major League Soccer.

Instead the entirety of his professional career was spent with Milwaukee Wave, who were part of the American Indoor Soccer Association.

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