6 of Nobby Stiles’ Best Moments of His Career

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Nobby Stiles
Nobby Stiles made history with England & Manchester United | Getty Images/Getty Images

Nobby Stiles was never the most glamorous footballer, but he still managed to be an integral part of some of the most historic moments in English history.

The former Manchester United midfielder, who passed away aged 78, made close to 400 appearances for the Red Devils between 1960 and 1971, and during that time, he amassed a huge haul or trophies, accolades and unforgettable moments.

Here are six of the best.

Making your debut for United is no mean feat, but Stiles’ first appearance was particularly special as few had expected him to reach that point.

Then a full-back, Stiles was small, had poor eyesight, was going bald and had to wear false teeth. He didn’t fit in with the people around him and was never supposed to be a professional footballer.

Shifted into midfield by manager Matt Busby, Stiles soon proved he was worth the gamble.

While Denis Law and a young George Best stole the headlines as United won the First Division title in 1965, it was widely accepted that they could only flourish because of Stiles’ willingness to do the dirty work.

He featured in 41 games that season, proving to be an integral part of the United side that managed to lift their sixth league title.

WORLD CUP STILES
Stiles in action against France | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Stiles hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the group stage of the 1966 World Cup when a particularly tough challenge left France midfielder Jacques Simon with a serious injury.

The tackle wasn’t pretty, and there were calls from the Football Association for Stiles to be sent home from the tournament, but he was fervently defended by manager Alf Ramsay.

Ramsey was so impressed with Stiles’ determination that he actually threatened to resign if the FA got their wish. Few players ever drew that kind of passion from Ramsey.

1966 WORLD CUP
Eusebio was marked out of the game | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Stiles was again the subject of real criticism in the semi-final victory over Portugal. He was tasked with man-marking Eusébio, who was one of the world’s elite at the time, and he was so good at it that people were actually upset to not have seen Eusébio’s brilliance.

It definitely wasn’t pretty, but it was the birth of the man-marking tactic which we’ve seen deployed against world class players ever since.

Ramsey was full of support for Stiles, whose performance often does not get the recognition it deserves.

Stiles ensured England saw off West Germany in the final of the competition, but his defining moment came after the full-time whistle.

With the trophy in one hand, Stiles removed his false teeth and held them in the other hand as he unleashed an iconic little jig which will live long in the memory of any fan.

Manchester United squad
Stiles made history with United | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Stiles came head-to-head with nemesis Eusébio in the final of the 1967/68 European Cup, and having seen the Benfica man net six goals in the tournament already, he knew he was in for a fight.

His victory over Eusébio may not have been as emphatic this time around, but Stiles still did enough to stop him from scoring and ensured United could pick up an impressive 4-1 win.

The Red Devils were the first English side to win Europe’s top prize, and Stiles’ role in that should never be forgotten.

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