Nobby Stiles: England’s One Goal Wonder!

nobby-377152by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

Wembley Stadium. Twenty third February 1966. England are playing West Germany in an international friendly, just prior to the World Cup finals.

The game is in the 41st minute. A cross-field pass is nodded firmly towards the German goal by England’s number eight, Roger Hunt from the edge of the six yard area. The West German keeper Hans Tilkowski could only parry the ball into the path of an incoming Nobby Stiles who bundled it into the net.

The 75,000 crowd could hardly believe their eyes. How come with Roger Hunt, Geoff Hurst and Bobby Charlton on the pitch, it was the diminutive Stiles who scored..? Once the shock had worn off the crowd roared their delight and Nobby ran back to take his place at right-half, as if scoring for England was an everyday occurrence. But it was the one and only time he managed to get onto the England score sheet.

Five months later, and wearing his toothless grin, he jigged across the Wembley turf holding the Jules Rimet Trophy aloft – a World Cup winner.

1968 European Cup Final at Wembley Stadium - Manchester United's Nobby Stiles and Bobby Charlton celebrate as they become European Champions for the first time
Nobby Stiles and Bobby Charlton celebrate becoming European Champions

He along with Bobby Charlton remain the only two Englishmen to have won both the World Cup and European Cup – after Manchester United defeated Benfica at Wembley in 1968.

But his biggest challenge came in 2013, aged 71. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer, though his doctors expected him to make a full recovery, unlike his World Cup winning captain Bobby More, who died from the disease aged 51.

In all Stiles played 28 times for his country and was awarded an MBE in 2000 for services to football.

There have been other England internationals who have only scored once for England. But none have climbed to the summit of world soccer as did a certain Norbert (a name Sir Alf Ramsey always used when addressing him) Peter Stiles.

And I for one will always remember his celebrations on the 30 July 1966: an image that will live on in sporting history!


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