He played for Bolton Wanderers from 1947 to 1961, and six matches for the England national football team in 1958, including all four matches in the 1958 FIFA World Cup. He got his opportunity in the England team because of the death of incumbent left-back Roger Byrne in the Munich Air Disaster in February 1958. Despite strong performances in the World Cup, he made only a single appearance for England after the tournament, as he was hampered by a persistent hamstring injury which ultimately curtailed his career. As recounted in Declan Hill’s book "The Fix", Banks also had a small but influential role in the fight to acquire better pay and conditions for football players in the 1961 labour dispute with the Football League. He also played non-league football for Altrincham.