World Cup winning midfielder Stiles, Legends never die!

The remaining members of the 1966 World Cup winning side was reduced to just four after Nobby Stiles died aged 78.

Only George Cohen, Sir Bobby Charlton (who unfortunately also has been diagnosed with dementia), Geoff Hurst and Roger Hunt now remain from that great squad.

Stiles was struggling with a long illness

Stiles, passed away on Friday after a long illness through dementia. The likeable Stiles will always be remembered for his joyful smile and his celebratory jig around Wembley after the final.

The regular sight of his socks around his ankles and his dentures in the other will be remembered for ever. He was also known as the toothless wonder due to the gaps in his teeth.

Wonderful praise from Ramsey

He was a vital clog in England’s World Cup winning side. Manager at the time Alf Ramsey insisted that Stiles was one of five world class players he had at his disposal.

Stile’s work rate was phenomenal. His selfless tracking back of opponents was immense. He was a wonderful passer of the ball and his ferocious tackling was first class. He did the hard work unnoticed while others grabbed the headlines.

Joined the Red Devils at a young age

At 17 he signed on as an apprentice at Manchester United. Brought up on the streets of Collyhurst he lost his upper set of teeth in a brawl aged 15.

Stiles made his first team debut against Bolton Wanderers in 1960 as a right back. United manager at the time Matt Busby decided to move him into midfield, with the tactic working.

England debut in 1965

By the time he had won his first England cap in 1965 he had won the FA Cup and League title.

The toothless wonder was to play every minute of England’s winning campaign.

Marking Eusebio out of a game is some achievement

On a personal note I will always remember the semi final against Portugal. Stiles was given the unenviable task of man marking the great Eusebio. He never let the great striker out of his sight.

The pair were to meet again in the 1968 European Cup Final when Eusebio was playing for Benfica. United were victorious and Stiles became one of only three players in English history to win a World Cup and European Cup.

In 1971 he was released by United and moved to Middlesbrough before becoming manager of Preston North End.  After a spell in Canada coaching Vancouver Whitecaps, he was back in England. A brief spell as manager of West Brom was short lived, but he was not cut out for management.

Stiles played for the love of the game

Stiles played at a time when players never made a lot of money out of the game. He played for the love of the game with small rewards a bonus for him.

Sir Alex Ferguson offered Stiles a coaching position with the Manchester United youth teams of 1989. He proved a success that oversaw a terrific crop of youngsters.

By the start of the nineties, sadly his health started to deteriorate. After two heart attacks in 2003 and 2010 he suffered a stroke. In 2013 he was discovered to have prostrate cancer.

For the last 17 years of his wonderful life he was affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia.

In 2010 he sent his collection of footballing memorabilia to auction. His World Cup and European Cup medals ended up at Old Trafford. Manchester United paid £209,000 for them and are in display in the club museum.

The sight of the nations dancing hero on that famous Wembley turf on that memorable day in England football history, is etched in my mind. It always will be as people will look back on the life and times of Nobby Stiles with a smile on their faces and a little jig as well.

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