Mourners gathered outside Old Trafford today to pay tribute to club legend and England 1966 hero Nobby Stiles as he was laid to rest after dying aged 78 following a battle with Alzheimer’s.
Stiles’ former teammate and friend Pat Crerand dabbed his eye as the hearse came by the stadium, where flowers and scarves have been left in a makeshift shrine.
The footballer will be laid to rest at a private funeral at a Manchester Crematorium Southern Cemetery, with only a small group of family in attendance due to lockdown rules.
There is also expected to be a tribute to Stiles at Wembley ahead of England’s friendly against the Republic of Ireland tonight.
Stiles (pictured celebrating the 1966 World Cup win at Wembley) died aged 78 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease
Mourners gathered outside Old Trafford today to pay tribute to club legend and England 1966 hero Nobby Stiles, who was conveyed in a hearse to a private funeral
Stiles’ former teammate and friend Pat Crerand dabbed his eye as the hearse came by the stadium, where flowers and scarves have been left in a makeshift shrine
Fellow Red Devils legends Brian Kidd, left, and Bryan Robson, right, are among those paying their respects today
Tributes flooded in to the man who was the ‘heart and soul’ of the England team when his death was announced last month.
Stiles was also part of the Manchester United side which became the first English club to win the European Cup two years later.
In a statement, his family said: ‘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 born in a cellar at his family home in Collyhurst, north Manchester, during an air raid on May 18, 1942 and grew up in the working class neighbourhood.
His father Charlie was the manager of the family’s undertakers’ parlour business and his mother Kitty worked as a machinist.
He went to St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School before his sporting talent was spotted as a 15-year-old school boy by Manchester United.
Stiles agreed 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.
The short holding midfielder was given his debut by Sir Matt Busby the following year and became a recognisable figure on the field due to his missing front teeth – revealed when he took his dentures out before games – and dramatic combover.
He married his childhood sweetheart Kay, sister of former Republic of International Johnny Giles, in 1961 and they went on to have three sons together: Peter, John and Robert.
Stiles was also part of the Manchester United side which became the first English club to win the European Cup two years later
Stiles’ hearse drives near Old Trafford before the service and committal of the football legend in a nearby crematorium
Stiles’ family, which included wife Kay (right of Nobby), asked for privacy after announcing his death last month. Pictured left to right: Nobby’s granddaughter Megan, son Peter, himself, his daughter-in-law Mary, son John, wife Kay, son Robert and Granddaughter Catlin
The ‘toothless tiger’ went on to win the First Division title in 1965 before winning the World Cup with England the following year and European Cup with United in 1968.
He will perhaps be remembered most for his dance while holding the World Cup trophy after the final, but few would question his striking influence both on and off the field in the lead up to England’s victory.
Speaking in 2002, Stiles told the Guardian: ‘It’s still the biggest thing that happened to me. Everyone still wants a piece of you because of it.
‘To be fair, I’m not as busy as some of the other lads. But wherever you go, what you did means so much to people. Not just lads of my age, you’d expect that.
‘But kids of me grandkids’ age, they come up to me and go: “Hey, you, you’re the fella with no teeth who danced round Wembley, aren’t you?” In a way, you end up belonging to everyone.’
After stints at Middlesborough and Preston North End, Stiles retired from playing in 1975.
He later managed Preston 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.
Tributes flooded in to the man who was the ‘heart and soul’ of the England team after his death was announced last month. Pictured left to right: Jack Charlton, Nobby Stiles, Bobby Moore, Ray Wilson and George Cohen
Stiles (second from left on back row) helped England win their first and only World Cup after beating West Germany 4-2 at Wembley Stadium. Top row left to right: trainer Harold Shepherdson, Nobby Stiles, Roger Hunt, Gordon Banks, Jack Charlton, George Cohen, Ray Wilson, Manager Alf Ramsey, and bottom row, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore, Alan Ball and Bobby Charlton.
Stiles sold his medals and football memorabilia to raise money for his family, like many of his England team mates.
He raised £425,000 in an auction in 2010, after Manchester United paid a total of £209,000 for his World Cup and European Cup winners’ medals.
Stiles suffered a mini stroke the same year aged 68 and was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013
His later years were increasingly characterised by his struggles with Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, as he began to lose his speech.
Stiles’s family were critical of the lack of support he received and argued the Professional Footballers’ Association should have completed research into the link between heading a football and degenerative brain disease during his lifetime.
He was made an MBE in 2000, joining fellow 1966 finalists Alan Ball, Roger Hunt, Ray Wilson and George Cohen, and a road was named after him in Collyhurst in May 2016.
Gary Lineker led tributes to Stiles, posting on Twitter: ‘Saddened to hear that Nobby Stiles has passed away.
‘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.’