Former England and Manchester United midfielder Nobby Stiles has passed away aged 78 after lengthy battles with dementia and prostate cancer.
A graduate of United’s academy, Stiles was a key player in the England side that won the 1966 World Cup, making headlines for his iconic dance after the final whistle – which saw him hold the trophy in one hand and his false teeth in the other.
“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,” a family statement read (via ITV). “The family kindly ask for privacy at this sad time.”
Stiles had to overcome plenty of obstacles to make it at United. He was short as a teenager and also had very poor eyesight, but his ability as a no-nonsense midfielder saw him win over manager Matt Busby.
He impressed on his debut in October 1960, almost redefining the idea of what it meant to be a midfielder. Busby deployed Stiles as a shield ahead of his defence, utilising his tough-tackling and surprisingly impressive eye for a pass to give the Red Devils another edge.
The defining moment of Stiles’ illustrious career came six years later when he emerged as an integral part of Alf Ramsey’s England side, and his role in the Three Lions’ sole World Cup glory often went under the radar.
In the semi-final victory over Porto, Stiles was given the unenviable job of man-marking Eusébio. He did so with devastating ease, attracting criticism from many for the unattractive style of play, but neither Stiles nor Ramsey were interested.
His famous jig after the win over West Germany in the final will never be forgotten, and Stiles created another memory just one year later as he led United to glory in the 1968 European Cup, again overcoming Eusébio and his Benfica side in the final.
After 395 appearances for the Red Devils, Stiles was sold to Middlesbrough in 1971, and after two years with Boro, he moved to Preston North End and brought his career to an end in 1975.
Stiles then went on to manage Preston, before spending time in charge of Vancouver Whitecaps and West Bromwich Albion.