Members of Manchester United’s Class of ’92 have paid tribute to Nobby Stiles after the 1966 World Cup winner died at the age of 78.
Phil Neville, who was coached by Stiles when he was in United’s academy teams, said he ‘took care of me the way I would want my own son to be treated.’
Gary Neville shared a throwback photograph on Twitter and thanked Stiles for teaching ‘us how to fight for everything in that red shirt.’
Gary Neville posted a throwback picture featuring Nobby Stiles checking on him as he received treatment during a Manchester United youth team match
Stiles (left) was a youth team coach at United between 1989 and 1993, helping nurture many of the famous Class of ’92 players who went on to star in the first team
Stiles was in the Man United side which became the first English club to win the European Cup
Nicky Butt, who is now United’s head of first team development, described him as a ‘God-like figure’.
Tenacious defensive midfielder Stiles played for United between 1960 and 1971, making 395 appearances and helping the club to win two League Championships and the European Cup in 1968 under Sir Matt Busby.
But his crowning glory was helping England lift the World Cup at Wembley in 1966.
Between 1989 and 1993, Stiles worked for United as their youth team coach and was responsible for nurturing the famous Class of ’92, which included Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Butt and the Neville brothers.
‘That group of young players, that Class of ’92, were taught how to be United players by Nobby,’ Phil Neville wrote in The Times.
United’s famous Class of 92 with coach Eric Harrison (left). From second left to right, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Terry Cooke
Nobby Stiles at the scene of his finest hour as England won the World Cup at Wembley in 1966
Stiles (second from left on back row) was the most relatable member of the England team that won their first and only World Cup after beating West Germany 4-2 back in 1966
‘He taught us what it meant to play for United and how we were expected to conduct ourselves.
‘He instilled values that stayed with all of us, I think, not just throughout our careers as players but in all aspects of our lives.’
Looking back, Neville added that ‘you never would have known he was this giant of the game, a hero of English football’s finest hour, because he never talked about it.’
Neville, who went on to play 386 times for the Old Trafford club, recalled an occasion during an under-15 game at The Cliff – United’s old training ground – when Stiles rushed onto the pitch and kicked the ball away so an injured player could receive treatment after the referee had played on.
‘He was such a caring man,’ Neville added. ‘I remember my first game away from home. It was in Anglesea and I was terrified.
Stiles won league titles with the Red Devils in 1965 and 1967, before their 1968 European success
‘I’d never been away from home without my mum and dad before and it felt like a million miles away.
‘He looked after me all day and gave me the man of the match award. He took care of me the way I would want my own son to be treated.’
Gary Neville posted a Twitter picture showing himself receiving treatment during a United youth team game as Stiles watches on.
He wrote: ‘Rest in Peace Nobby. Thank you for all you did for us. You taught us how to fight for everything in that red shirt. ‘Your studs ate your best friends out there.’
Butt spoke ahead of United’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup at St George’s Park.
He told BT Sport: ‘He was a massive influence on all of us who came through at that club. He was my first coach at United when I was 12 or 13 and he was an icon of the club and country, a God-like figure when you look at him.
‘He was amazing for us, probably the most humble man I’ve ever met. To be a World Cup winner and be like Bobby was.
‘It is a sad day obviously but it is very heartfelt from all the people at the club and all the people around for world for what he did in the World Cup.’
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BOYS OF ENGLAND’S GREATEST TRIUMPH?
Gordon Banks – Finest English keeper of all time, who played mostly for Leicester City and Stoke City as well as a spell in the United States. He died aged 81 after battle with kidney cancer.
George Cohen – Hailed as ‘the greatest full back I ever played against’ by George Best. A one club man for Fulham, where has a statue after making 459 appearances. The 81-year-old is one of four members of the team still alive.
Jack Charlton – Brother of Sir Bobby and a star defender in his own right, he played only for Leeds United in his career. Went into management and took Republic of Ireland to the knockout stages in two World Cups. Passed away in July this year at the age of 85.
Bobby Moore – Peerless defender and captain of England considered the greatest ball-playing centre-half in history. Tragically died aged just 51 in 1993 due to bowel cancer. He was the first of the 1966 team to pass away. There is still great upset that he was never knighted.
Ray Wilson – At 32, Huddersfield’s most capped England international was also the oldest member of the team that beat West Germany 4-2 in the final on July 30. He died in May 2018 aged 83 after suffering with Alzheimer’s disease for 14 years.
Nobby Stiles – His toothless dance after victory at Wembley has become iconic in English football, as were his ferocious midfield displays. The Manchester United mainstay passed away after battling Alzheimer’s.
Alan Ball – Was the youngest member and man of the match in the 1966 final but sold his winners medal to provide for his family – like eight of the 11 players did. Played for 13 clubs before transitioning into management. Died of a heart attack in 2007 at the age of just 61 while trying to put out a blaze.
Sir Bobby Charlton – Survived the Munich Air Disaster before helping England to win first the World Cup. With his majestic left foot and crucial 1966 goals, many have said he may be the greatest footballer England has ever produced. Still working at Manchester United at the age of 83.
Martin Peters – Scorer of the second goal in the final. Started a second career in insurance in 1984 following 67 caps for the national team and spells with West Ham, Tottenham and Norwich. Died on 21 December 2019, aged 76.
Sir Geoff Hurst – Still the only player to score a hat-trick in the World Cup final, Sir Geoff was part of an army of West Ham players who dominated the 1966 England team. Knighted in 1998, the 78-year-old is retired and lives in Cheltenham with his wife Judith.
Roger Hunt – One of Liverpool’s greatest-ever players, Hunt joined his family’s haulage company after retiring from playing in 1972. After being overlooked for years, he was made MBE along with Ball, Cohen, Stiles and Wilson in 2000 after a campaign to recognise their achievements in 1966. Now lives in Warrington, aged 82.
Sir Alf Ramsey – National hero and mastermind behind the team of ‘wingless wonders’, the manager had predicted England would win the 1966 World Cup when he took the helm in 1963. Lost his job after failing to qualify for 1974 World Cup and retired in 1980 to a quiet life in Ipswich. Died following a heart attack in 1999, aged 79.