NOBBY ALWAYS LOOKED OUT FOR ME, TOLD ME TO DO MY BEST BUT GAVE ME PLENTY OF B******INGS!
to make up numbers in a game with first-team players on a pitch near the Ship Canal.
“Nobby came over and told me Sir Matt Busby and his assistant Jimmy Murphy were watching and to make sure I got stuck in and gave it everything.
“I wasn’t even 16 at that point and to have someone like Nobby looking out for me and encouraging me was something you only appreciate later on, but all the senior players at United helped me.” It wasn’t always wise words and advice from Stiles though.
Kidd recalls: “He gave me plenty of bollockings when I was coming through and got into the first team at United.
“And I remember once when when I was a youngster I kicked him during a training game and he kicked me straight up in the air! You didn’t mess with Nobby even if he liked you!” With his menacing toothless grin – the result of a local skirmish growing up – and ferocious winning mentality Stiles was a fearsome competitor. But fellow 1968 European Cup winner Kidd also points out Stiles wasn’t the hatchet man he was often painted.
“Forget about that. I played many games with Nobby and he had great ability and was very good technically,” said Kidd, now a coach at Manchester City with Pep Guardiola.
“He started at school as a centreforward and moved back into defence with United and played in England’s midfield in 1966. He left a bit on opponents at times because of his tenacity but he had great awareness and was a superb reader of the game.
“And you don’t play for Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alf Ramsey if you aren’t a very good footballer.
“At United I saw the effect he had on other players too. And I’ve no doubt he helped extend Bill Foulkes career by a couple of seasons simply playing alongside him in defence.
“When we heard he’d died my daughter sent me a picture of the two of us with the European Cup... and that smile.
“He was a great player and a lovely man and I send my condolences to his wife Kay and the family.”
HEYDAY With pals George Best and Bobby Charlton and (below) European glory in 1968