Nobby Stiles, England World Cup winner, dies aged 78

Tributes pour in for the former Manchester United star

Nobby Stiles, part of the England team which won the World Cup in 1966, has died aged 78 after a long illness.

Stiles was also part of the Manchester United side which became the first English club to win the European Cup two years later, when they beat Benfica in the final at Wembley.

"The Stiles family are sad to announce that Nobby Stiles passed away peacefully surrounded by his family after a long illness," a statement issued by the Stiles family read.

"The family kindly ask for privacy at this sad time."

Stiles was credited with playing a key role in neutralising the threat of Portuguese star Eusebio in the World Cup semi-final.

In total he won 28 caps, the lowest number of any of the World Cup-winning side.

Stiles was born in Collyhurst, Manchester, in May 1942, during an air raid.

He 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.

He won league titles with the Red Devils in 1965 and 1967, before the continental success the following year.

Former England midfielder Peter Reid was one of the first to pay tribute to Stiles on social media.

"Nobby Stiles RIP," he tweeted, alongside a heart emoji.

Stiles left United in 1971, going on to play for Middlesbrough and Preston.

He later managed Preston between 1977 and 1981, before coaching Canadian side Vancouver Whitecaps and then West Bromwich Albion between 1985 and 1986.

He returned to United as a youth team coach under Sir Alex Ferguson in 1989 for a four-year stint.

Former England striker Gary Lineker paid tribute to Stiles, singling out the former Manchester United player's heart.

"Saddened to hear that Nobby Stiles has passed away," Lineker tweeted.

"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."

Stiles suffered a series of health issues in later life, including a dementia diagnosis.

In 2010, after a mini-stroke, he decided to sell his medals in order to leave something to his family.

United bought them for £200,000 and the medals are now housed in the club's museum.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham described Stiles as "quite simply one of the greatest-ever Mancunians" on Twitter.

"From humble beginnings to a European & World Cup winner," he tweeted.

"Much-loved in Greater Manchester & by millions across the country. We will miss you, Nobby, but thanks for all the memories. Our love to family and friends."

"We're incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of Nobby Stiles, a key member of our @FIFAWorldCup-winning squad, at the age of 78," England said in a tweet.

"All of our thoughts are with Nobby's loved ones."

Preston added their own tribute. "Everyone at Preston North End is saddened to learn of the passing of former player and promotion-winning manager Nobby Stiles at the age of 78," they posted on Twitter.

"Our thoughts are with Nobby's loved ones at this incredibly sad time."

Former Liverpool great and Preston player Mark Lawrenson paid tribute to Stiles' impact on his own career.

"Terrible news re Nobby Stiles," he tweeted. "He more than anyone made me into a Player at PNE.

"Absolute Gentleman as well...Love to the family...Very Sad day."

A number of Manchester United players who worked with Stiles in the 1990s took to social media to pay tribute to the World Cup winner's impact on their careers.

"Rest in Peace Nobby. Thank you for all you did for us. You taught us how to fight for everything in that red shirt," wrote Gary Neville.

"As a 16-year-old boy at Manchester United, it was a privilege to be coached by a legend of the game and a true gentleman," wrote Robbie Savage.

"Really sad news that @ManUtd legend Nobby Styles has passed away. A great hero and an inspiration for all United fans," wrote Peter Schmeichel.

West Brom, who Stiles managed between 1985-1986, posted a tribute on Twitter.

"Farewell to the most famous grin in English football," it said.

"A World Cup winning Lion who we are proud to have serve at The Hawthorns as manager for a brief spell in the mid-1980s.

"Rest in peace, Nobby."

United released a statement paying tribute to Stiles, who played for the Red Devils from 1960-1971.

"We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Nobby Stiles MBE," it said.

"An integral part of our first-ever European Cup-winning side, Nobby was a titan of the club's history, cherished for his heart and personality on and off the pitch.

"He will be sorely missed by us all."

Sir Geoff Hurst, whose hat-trick helped England to victory over West Germany in the 1966 final, paid his own tribute to Stiles.

"Hugely sad to hear Nobby has passed away," he wrote on Twitter.

"We were playing together way back for the U17s, U23s, and of course, for England, in fact, it was my first cap when Nobby scored, I think he was wearing No. 9!

"Great character, and the heart and soul of the team, he will be sorely missed."

Former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton sent his condolences.

"So sad to hear the news of Nobby Stiles a great person who I admired very much one of the great 66 Legends England RIP," he tweeted.

World governing body Fifa paid their own tribute to Stiles.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Nobby Stiles," a tweet posted on the @FIFAWorldCup Twitter account read.

"He played in every minute of @England's #WorldCup-winning campaign in 1966. His performance in the semi-final, especially, will never be forgotten. RIP Nobby."

European Cup-winning goalkeeper Alex Stepney described it as his "pleasure and honour" to play with Stiles while Mike Phelan described him as "a great man for club and country".