Nobby Stiles, a member of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team, has died aged 78.
His family said he passed away peacefully after a long illness.
Stiles played every minute of the victorious 1966 campaign, and was credited with keeping Portugal legend Eusebio quiet during the semi-final.
His post-match celebration after the Wembley final, in which England beat West Germany 4-2, saw him holding the World Cup trophy in one hand and his false teeth in the other.
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 – again at Wembley.
Domestically, the tough-tackling holding midfielder won league titles with the Red Devils in 1965 and 1967.
Another member of the 1966 England squad, Sir Geoff Hurst, said Stiles was the “heart and soul of the team”, adding that he was “hugely sad” to hear of his passing.
Former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton said Stiles was a “great person who I admired very much”.
Manchester United said their former player was a “titan of the club’s history, cherished for his heart and personality on and off the pitch”.
Stiles was born during a Second World War air raid in Collyhurst, Manchester, in May 1942, agreeing apprentice terms with United in 1959.
After he left Old Trafford in 1971, he went on to play for Middlesbrough and Preston.
Middlesbrough said Stiles – nicknamed the “Toothless Tiger” – was “one of the most colourful characters ever to wear our shirt”.
He also managed Preston between 1977 and 1981, the Vancouver Whitecaps from 1981 to1984, and West Bromwich Albion between 1985 and 1986.
We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Nobby Stiles MBE.
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. pic.twitter.com/aT0Mk47cEl
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 30, 2020
West Brom tweeted: “Farewell to the most famous grin in English football. Rest in peace, Nobby.”
Stiles returned to United as a youth team coach under Sir Alex Ferguson in 1989.
He was diagnosed with dementia in later life, and after a mini-stroke in 2010, decided to sell his medals in order to leave something to his family.
United bought them for £200,000 and they are part of the club’s museum.