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Nobby Stiles - My Favourite United Player!
Nobby Stiles

Being a Manchester United fan I find it difficult to pick out just one player as my favourite. We (as 'United' supporters) are so fortunate, our club having been blessed with so many football greats over the years :~ Best : Cantona : Charlton : Edwards : Giggs : Keane : Law : Robson : Ronaldo : Schmeichel :
and many, many more. However this time I'm going for one other, a midfield player with almost 400 starts for 'United' and who did every bit as much for our team as Peter Schmeichel or Dennis Law.
I'm talking of Norbert Stiles, or 'Nobby' as he was more affectionally known, who played for United from 1959 until 1971.

Nobby was born 1942 in North Manchester and started his 'Red Devils' apprenticeship at the age of 15, that same year he had played for 'England Schoolboys' where his true potential became obvious for all to see.
The diminutive Styles (5'6"-ish) was hampered from early in his career by being extremely shortsighted and so, to get the best from him on the pitch, strong contact lenses were needed. Off the pitch the heavily bespectacled Stiles would have, in those days, been quite the antithesis to todays David Beckham for, apart from being shortsighted and small of stature, he sported a tooth gapped grin and showed early signs of a balding head, complete with combover.
A hairstyle that proved to be very popular and quickly taken up by fellow teammate and 1960's pin-up boy Bobby Charlton.

Nobby was possibly the forerunner of todays 'Holding Midfield' player. He was a great reader of the game with the added ability to hold up the ball whenever needed. A fearless and tenacious tackler, whatever he lacked for in height he made up for with heart.
In fact I believe that Paul Scholes, in his book 'The Complete Art of Tackling', gave Nobby due credit as being "the man he had based his whole career on". Wink
(Unfortunately for Paul, that style of tackling went out 20 years previously.)

Nobby won several honour during his 11+ years at 'Old Trafford', they were :~
The First Divi­sion Title in 1965 & 1967 ;
The FA Charity Shield in 1965 (A draw: Honours shared with 'The Bin Dippers') & 1967 ;
and The European Cup in 1968.

Undoubtably though, he will best be remembered for his performances, both on and off the field of play, at the 1966 World Cup. Here Nobby won his 15th Senior Cap as England began their campaign, a goalless draw against Uraguay. Keeping his place as the home side progressed through the competition he probably played his best game while picking up his 20th Cap when England were drawn against Portugal in the semifinals.
Eusébio, their playmaker,and most prolific goal scorer, found that in Nobby he had well and truly met a man at the top of his game. He struggled to stamp his mark on the game, rarely managing to outwit Nobby's consummate abilities and hard (though at times unorthodox) tackling throughout the whole of the match. 'The Black Pearl' ended the game with just a penalty to his name as England ran out the 2 - 1 winners.
This was a performance that Nobby was to recreate, (although to perhaps a lesser extent) two years later against Benfica as United lifted The European Cup in 1968.
(We were 4 - 1 winners after extra time.)

After winning the Final (a result disputed even to this day) against West Germany, the pitch-side celebrations of the England team were to be made even more memorable by the sight of Nobby doing a totally involuntary jig, holding the World Cup aloft on the top of his head with one hand while his false teeth were singing 'We Won The Cup' in his other hand. A scene never to be forgotten and still sung about almost half a century later.

After having picked up his '66 World Cup winners medal Nobby was to add just 3 more England Caps to his total before his career began to wind down. However, Alf Ramsay did pick him for the 1970 World Cup but it was only as an understudy to Alan Mullery, unfortunately he wasn't called upon as England gave up their title in the quarterfinals and Stiles was never picked for his country again.

[Image: NobbyAge29ShortlyafterleavingUnited.png]

Nobby, (Age 29) Shortly after leaving United.

In 1971 Manchester United sold Nobby to Middlesborough, where he moved on 2 years later to become Player/Coach for Bobby Charlton at Preston North End.
With things not working out for Charlton, 1977 saw Nobby take over from him as fulltime manager, successfully taking them to promotion in the '77/'78 season from the Third to the Second Division.

Leaving PNE in 1981 for the (then) trendy and lucrative North American Soccer League Stiles was to spend the following 3 years as coach to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Nobby left Canada and the NASL in September '85 for the English Midlands where his last fling at football management would see him spend a truly forgettable time at the helm of West Bromwich Albion. On leaving the Midlands after just 5 short months, with only three wins and the onset of depression to show for his time there, Nobby finally closed the door on his footballing career ......
Until 1989 that is, when Manchester United came calling once again with a position of Youth Team Coach to fill .
...... and the rest is history.

Between 1989 and 1993 Nobby worked hard, helping to develop and bring to the fore the appreciable and significant skills of 6 teenagers who were to become the celebrated and talented nucleus of the Manchester United First Team for years to come.


Nobby Facts
  • Nobby received just £1000 for his World Cup Appearances.
    Of that £1000, the government took £400 from him in Income Tax.

  • Stiles is one of only three Englishmen to have won both World & European Cup Final Medals.
    (The others .... Bobby Charlton & Ian Callaghan)

  • Nobby was elected to football’s 'Hall of Fame' in 2007

  • In 2000 Nobby was decorated, alongside Alan Ball, Roger Hunt, Ray Wilson and George Cohen, with the MBE.

Nobby Myths
  • Stiles was a keen guitarist, a close friend of Syd Barrett (of Pink Floyd). In the late '60's, the two were often to be found 'jamming' together.

    (Don't believe me ? ..... Google it, and see.)
Thanks my friend for that great thread. +Rep!

Norbert Stiles (Nobby) was a great player.
A real legend here, good thread mate.
Well done,

I read Nobby's book a few years back and the man had a troubled life.

SAF and United helped him during a particularly dark period of his life.

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