Norbert "Nobby" Stiles was born in 1942 in the Collyhurst district of North Manchester. Always a Manchester United supporter as a small boy, he became an apprentice at the club in 1959, by which time he had already played, at Wembley, for England Schoolboys. As he later said, "I used to clean the boots of the top players. I idolised them." Manager Matt Busby gave Stiles his first team debut in 1960 against Bolton.
England manager Alf Ramsey quickly saw Stiles' potential as a midfield 'hard man', to closely mark attacking opponents out of the game, and to supply his star player, Bobby Charlton, with passes at every opportunity.
Stiles won his first England cap against Scotland in 1965, and played a further 13 games for England by the time the World Cup games began in 1966.
Nobby Stiles was one of the most colourful players in the game during the 1960s. His slight stature, toothless grin, thinning hair and the thick glasses that he wore off the pitch (he wore contact lenses when playing) belied his reputation as one of the hardest and most ferocious tacklers in football.
Stiles' England career ended after 28 Internationals when he lost his place to Alan Mullery.
Two years later in 1968, Stiles again had the awesome task of marking the legendary Eusebio out of the game, his time in the European Cup final against Benfica. Manchester United won the game making Nobby Stiles and Bobby Charlton the only two English footballers to win both the World and European Cups.
In the Final itself, Stiles was England's midfield driving force, and gave everything throughout the physically gruelling game and its 30 minutes of 'extra time'. After England had won, Stiles provided one of the most enduring images of the 1966 World Cup finals as he skipped around the Wembley turf with the Jules Rimet trophy held high in the air. Stiles later said, "It was absolutely spontaneous. I don't know what I was thinking. I'm a bloody awful dancer anyway!"
Nobby Stiles played throughout the 1966 World Cup Group matches. Against Portugal in the semi-final, he had the role of marking Eusebio out of the game, a task he performed so well that England won through to the Final.
In 1971, Stiles left Manchester United, after 397 appearances, to play for Middlesbrough. Stiles was interviewed at the time about his move and there is a YouTube video of this (see link).
After 2 years at Middlesbrough, Stiles moved to Preston North End as player-coach, at the time when Bobby Charlton was their manager. However, when Charlton left, Stiles took over as manager from 1977 to 1981. After 3 years coaching the Vancouver Whitecaps in Canada, and a brief, unsuccessful spell as manager of West Bromwich Albion, the curtain came down on Stiles' career.
I met Nobby Stiles, at the NEC in November 2005, along with some other members of the England 1966 World Cup winning team. He signed my England shirt and then I had my photo taken with him. I never saw him play but I was very pleased to meet one of the game's great 'characters'!
(Sir Geoff Hurst is behind him)
Nobby signs my England shirt
Nobby Stiles, like most of the England team of 1966 have done, wrote about his World Cup and other footballing moments in his autobiography. It is called After The Ball, and was published in 2003
Stiles's services to England were belatedly recognised in 2000 when he was awarded the MBE in the New Years Honours list, along with four other team mates - Alan Ball, George Cohen, Roger Hunt and Ray Wilson.
Between 1989 and 1993, Stiles coached the Manchester United youth team, developing the skills of players like David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.
Nobby Stiles in his first game for
Nobby Stiles with their MBEs
Roger Hunt, George Cohen, Alan Ball, Ray Wilson &
Nobby Stiles & Bobby Charlton
George Best and Nobby Stiles in 1972
Bobby Charlton and Nobby Stiles with the
European Cup and the Jules Rimet trophy
Bobby, Nobby & Bobby at the end of the Final!!
Eusebio and Stiles in action during the semi-final
Young Nobby at Man Utd
Nobby Stiles autograph on my England shirt
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