England 1966 World Cup winner Nobby Stiles dies aged 78

30 October 2020, 15:50 | Updated: 30 October 2020, 16:44

England World Cup winner Nobby Stiles has died aged 78
England World Cup winner Nobby Stiles has died aged 78. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

England 1966 World Cup winner and Manchester United legend Nobby Stiles has died aged 78 after a long illness.

Stiles was part of the legendary England team which won the nation's only major international trophy by beating West Germany 4-2 in extra-time on home soil.

The tough defensive midfielder played every minute of the competition as a key member of Sir Alf Ramsey's team.

His post-match celebration after the final, where he danced on the pitch holding the Jules Rimet trophy in one hand and his false teeth in the other, has lived long in the memories of England supporters with the moment being captured in the famous Three Lions song.

He also played in the Manchester United side which became the first English club to win the European Cup two years later, when they beat Benfica in the final at Wembley.

Read more: Football stars lead tributes to England World Cup winner Jack Charlton

Nobby Stiles suffered a series of health issues in later life
Nobby Stiles suffered a series of health issues in later life. Picture: PA

A statement issued by his loved ones read: "The Stiles family are sad to announce that Nobby Stiles passed away peacefully today (30/10/2020) surrounded by his family after a long illness.

"The family kindly ask for privacy at this sad time."

Stiles was credited with playing a key role in neutralising the threat of Portuguese star Eusebio in the World Cup semi-final.

In total, he won 28 caps for the national side, the lowest number of any of the World Cup-winning team.

Born in Collyhurst, Manchester, in May 1942, during an air raid, Stiles went on to agree to apprentice terms with United in 1959, at a time when the club was still recovering from the Munich air disaster a year earlier in which eight players were killed.

Stiles (far right) kissing the Jules Rimet trophy after winning the World Cup with England
Stiles (far right) kissing the Jules Rimet trophy after winning the World Cup with England. Picture: PA

He won league titles with the Red Devils in 1965 and 1967, before the continental success the following year.

The World Cup hero left United in 1971, going on to play for Middlesbrough and Preston North End.

He later managed the Lilywhites between 1977 and 1981, before coaching Canadian side Vancouver Whitecaps and then West Brom between 1985 and 1986.

He returned to United as a youth team coach under Sir Alex Ferguson in 1989 for a four-year stint.

Stiles suffered a series of health issues in later life, including a dementia diagnosis.

In 2010, after a mini-stroke, he decided to sell his medals in order to leave something to his family.

United bought them for £200,000 and the medals are now housed in the club's museum.

Former England midfielder Peter Reid was one of the first to pay tribute to Stiles on social media.

"Nobby Stiles RIP," he tweeted, alongside a heart emoji.

Former England striker Gary Lineker also paid tribute, singling out the former Manchester United player's heart.

"Saddened to hear that Nobby Stiles has passed away," Lineker tweeted.

"Another of our 1966 World Cup winning heroes leaves us. He had a heart that was even bigger than the gap in his teeth. RIP Nobby."

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham described Stiles as "Quite simply one of the greatest-ever Mancunians" on Twitter.

"From humble beginnings to a European & World Cup winner," he tweeted.

"Much-loved in Greater Manchester & by millions across the country. We will miss you, Nobby, but thanks for all the memories. Our love to family and friends."

The England football team also gave their condolences in a tweet.

It read: "We're incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of Nobby Stiles, a key member of our @FIFAWorldCup-winning squad, at the age of 78.

"All of our thoughts are with Nobby's loved ones."

United released a statement paying tribute to Stiles, who played for the Red Devils from 1960-1971, reading: "We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Nobby Stiles MBE.

"An integral part of our first-ever European Cup-winning side, Nobby was a titan of the club's history, cherished for his heart and personality on and off the pitch.

"He will be sorely missed by us all."

Preston, who Stiles played for between 1973-1975 and managed between 1977-1981, added their own tribute.

They posted on Twitter (with a heart emoji): "Everyone at Preston North End is saddened to learn of the passing of former player and promotion-winning manager Nobby Stiles at the age of 78.

"Our thoughts are with Nobby's loved ones at this incredibly sad time."

West Brom, who he managed between 1985-1986, also posted a tribute to the footballing legend.

It read: "Farewell to the most famous grin in English football.

"A World Cup winning Lion who we are proud to have serve at The Hawthorns as manager for a brief spell in the mid-1980s.

"Rest in peace, Nobby."

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