Nobby Stiles, called the “heart and soul” of the England squad that captured the 1966 World Cup, has passed away.
Stiles passed away Friday at the age of 78 after suffering from prostate cancer and dementia.
A holding midfielder, Stiles was a key starter, holding Portuguese striker Eusebio scoreless in the 1966 semifinal.
Hurst, whose hat-trick sealed England’s 4-2 extratime triumph over West Germany in the final, paid tribute to Stiles on Twitter.
“Hugely sad to hear Nobby has passed away,” he wrote. “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.”
Stiles distinguished himself during a 12-year career with Manchester United, starring for the club from 1960-71 before completing his career with Middlesborough and Preston North End. He played professionally over 16 seasons, scoring 20 goals in 414 matches.
Beyond the World Cup, Stiles’ biggest moments with United came when the club won the 1967-68 European Cup, the first English club to accomplish the feat. He also was part of two First Division winning sides in 1964-65 and 1966-67.
“We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Nobby Stiles MBE,” United said in a statement. “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.”
Stiles earned 28 caps, the smallest amount of any of the World Cup championship team.