Otago Daily Times

Un­likely hero of Eng­land’s cup tri­umph

- NOBBY STILES Sports · Soccer · FIFA World Cup · Cancer · Health Conditions · England national football team · England · Portugal national football team · Portugal · North Korea · Korea Republic national football team · Alf Ramsey · Germany · Germany national football team · Wembley Stadium · Manchester United F.C. · Manchester · S.L. Benfica · The Football Association · Football League First Division · George Best · Middlesbrough F.C. · Middlesbrough · Preston North End F.C. · Vancouver · West Bromwich Albion F.C. · West Bromwich · David Beckham · Leeds United A.F.C. · Leeds · Prostate Cancer · Nobby Stiles · Bobby Charlton · Collyhurst · Vancouver Whitecaps · Vancouver Whitecaps · Johnny Giles · Brighton & Hove Albion F.C. · Old Trafford · Paul Scholes · Guardian and Manchester Evening News Ltd

English foot­baller

OF all the play­ers who con­trib­uted to Eng­land’s World Cup vic­tory in 1966, Nobby Stiles, who died on October 30, aged 78, af­ter suf­fer­ing from prostate can­cer and de­men­tia, was the most un­likely of he­roes.

But, with his socks round his an­kles and his false front teeth left in the dress­ing room, he was a for­mi­da­ble op­po­nent, a ro­bust tack­ler and an im­pla­ca­ble marker, as he showed in a mem­o­rable and cru­cial per­for­mance in the semi­fi­nal against Por­tu­gal, when he com­pre­hen­sively — and fairly — squeezed the life out of the great Euse­bio.

Euse­bio had been a glit­ter­ing star of the tour­na­ment, a glo­ri­ously tal­ented and in­ci­sive at­tacker who had scored four of Por­tu­gal’s five goals in the quar­ter­fi­nal against North Korea. But in the semi­fi­nal, Stiles man­marked him into in­ef­fec­tive­ness, en­abling Eng­land to win 2­1.

When Alf Ram­sey had in­structed him dur­ing the pre­match brief­ing to take Euse­bio “out of the game”, Stiles had asked: “Do you mean for life, Alf ?” How­ever, his shep­herd­ing of the Por­tuguese star was not only be­yond re­proach but, in the es­ti­ma­tion of his col­league Ge­orge Co­hen, “tech­ni­cally and morally bril­liant”.

It was a su­perbly in­tel­li­gent per­for­mance, in­dica­tive of the role that Stiles had played through­out that World Cup as a shrewd, un­selfish cov­erer of de­fend­ers and an eco­nom­i­cal user of the ball. He ap­peared in every game of the 1966 tour­na­ment and was part of the back­bone of the side.

Though he had no man­mark­ing job to per­form in the 4­2 win against West Ger­many in the fi­nal, he put in an­other strong per­for­mance, and on the fi­nal whis­tle was the most en­thu­si­as­tic of cel­e­bra­tors, kiss­ing any­one within close range and es­say­ing a com­i­cal jig with the tro­phy that has passed into folk mem­ory.

Though quiet and even shy off the field, Stiles was vol­u­ble on it, con­stantly ad­vis­ing and ex­hort­ing his team­mates.

Two years af­ter Eng­land’s World Cup vic­tory, Stiles was at Wem­b­ley again to help Manch­ester United be­come the first English team to win the Euro­pean Cup fi­nal. Again Euse­bio was one of his op­po­nents, play­ing for

Ben­fica, and again Stiles was de­tailed to keep him quiet. Al­though he was not as com­pre­hen­sively suc­cess­ful in damp­ing down his man the sec­ond time around, he still did a per­fectly satisfacto­ry job — and United won 4­1.

As a re­sult, Stiles is one of only three English­men — the oth­ers be­ing Bobby Charl­ton and Ian Cal­laghan — to have won both a Euro­pean Cup and a World Cup.

Born in Col­ly­hurst, Manch­ester, the son of Char­lie, manager of an un­der­taker’s, and Kitty, Stiles joined Manch­ester United straight from school.

He made his de­but for

United as an inside­for­ward in the 1960­61 sea­son, play­ing 26 league matches and scor­ing twice.

When United reached the FA Cup fi­nal in 1963, and Stiles had missed just one cup tie be­sides play­ing 31 league games, he was, to his deep dis­ap­point­ment, dropped. The fol­low­ing sea­son he was picked for just 17 league games, but fought his way back into the reg­u­lar side in the 1964­65 sea­son, miss­ing only one league match in that First Divi­sion title­win­ning sea­son.

At only 167cm tall, pre­ma­turely bald­ing, with few teeth and se­vere short­sight­ed­ness that re­quired him to wear con­tact lenses dur­ing matches and thick glasses off the field, Stiles was an un­usual­look­ing foot­balling spec­i­men. But what­ever he lacked in clas­si­cal good looks and physique, he made up for with in­tel­li­gence and a highly com­pet­i­tive, even in­tim­i­dat­ing, de­meanour.

As he did for Eng­land, at United he sti­fled the ac­tiv­ity of op­pos­ing sides’ key play­ers, won the ball and then gave it to his team’s cre­ative tal­ents, such as Charl­ton and Ge­orge Best. That for­mula once more proved ir­re­sistible in the 1966­67 sea­son, when United again won the First Divi­sion title, and was de­ci­sive in the 1968 Euro­pean Cup fi­nal against Ben­fica.

He joined Mid­dles­brough in 1971 be­fore mov­ing for a cou­ple of sea­sons to Pre­ston North

End, re­turn­ing there for a fouryear spell as manager, tak­ing the club up from Divi­sion Three to Divi­sion Two in 1978.

He moved to Canada for a three­year pe­riod as manager at Van­cou­ver White­caps, and in 1985 he suc­ceeded his brother­in­law, Johnny Giles, as manager at West Bromwich Al­bion, last­ing in the job just four months.

Sub­se­quently, he re­turned to Old Traf­ford as a youth coach, nur­tur­ing play­ers such as David Beck­ham and Paul Sc­holes, but in later years he moved away from the foot­balling front­line to be­come a suc­cess­ful af­ter­din­ner speaker.

He is sur­vived by his wife, Kay, his child­hood sweet­heart, and their three sons, one of whom, John, was a pro­fes­sional foot­baller for Leeds United. — Guardian News and Me­dia

 ?? PHOTO: REUTERS ?? An­other 1966 hero gone . . . Tributes lie outside Old Traf­ford for for­mer Manch­ester United and Eng­land foot­baller Nobby Stiles.
PHOTO: REUTERS An­other 1966 hero gone . . . Tributes lie outside Old Traf­ford for for­mer Manch­ester United and Eng­land foot­baller Nobby Stiles.

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