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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 August, 2003, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Stiles back in fashion
By Paul Fletcher

Nobby Stiles
Stiles has recovered from a heart attack
Locked somewhere in the minds of most football fans is the image of Nobby Stiles jigging across the Wembley turf, holding aloft the World Cup after England's 4-2 win over Germany.

The gap-toothed figure with the cheeky grin has become immortalised in the English psyche as a symbol of the nation's greatest sporting triumph.

But another side to the former Manchester United, Middlesbrough and Preston midfielder emerges in his autobiography, After the Ball.

The low times that followed his retirement from football and unsuccessful foray into management culminated in thoughts of suicide as he drove his car down the M6 motorway early in 1989.

And a heart attack that left Stiles watching the 2002 World Cup from a hospital bed persuaded the 61-year-old that it was time to tell his story.

"Everyone remembers you for the good times but obviously people have bad times as well, everybody, not just me," Stiles told this website.

The World Cup is played every four years and every time they show this fella with no teeth doing a dance
Nobby Stiles
"You have to go through things - it is the only way you gain experience.

"The time I had in management was all part of learning and all part of life. In my case to made me realise I was no good at it."

And Stiles is keen to emphasise that the familiar smile masked a determination to succeed.

"I'd like to think I will be remembered as a happy person but there is a serious side as well.

"To achieve certain things you have to have a serious side. People think it is all happy-go-lucky but it is not.

"There has been a lot of hard work and that is what it is all about. There is the dedication to something if you want to do it and that is the case for most people in life."

For all his achievements Stiles, a very modest man, wondered whether his story would have any interest.

"People have said for a long time that I should do my autobiography and I wondered who would want to know now after all these years," said Stiles.

It is a remarkable statement for a player who, along with Sir Bobby Charlton, is the only Englishman to possess both a World Cup and a European Cup winners medal.

Stiles was eventually persuaded by his eldest son that he should press ahead and write his autobiography.

The story begins with Stiles' childhood in Collyhurst, a working class suburb of Manchester that has since been demolished, and takes us through his playing career and attempts to get to grips with football management.

"It is amazing the memories are still there, you'd think you'd lose them but you don't - going all the way back to being a kid.

"Maybe that's what happens the older you get. I can't remember yesterday but I can remember all the way back."

Nobby Stiles
Stiles was a tenacious midfielder

But the man they called Bandido will always be synonymous with the 1966 World Cup win.

"The World Cup is played every four years and every time they show this fella with no teeth doing a dance," said Stiles.

"So the grandparents are asked by the grandkids who is that, and they say that is Nobby Stiles, he's the Bandido."

But what Stiles wants more than anything is for a new generation of heroes to emerge.

"Yes, very much so as a big England supporter.

"I definitely think that the quality and the spirit is there.

"And with Beckham and the lads, England have some terrific players and I think there will be more coming up."


After the Ball
Nobby Stiles. Hodder & Stoughton. 18.99




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