Born: May 18 1942;

Died: October 30, 2020.

NOBBY Stiles, who has died aged 78, was a mainstay in the Manchester United teams of the 1960s, and a member of England’s World Cup-winning squad in 1966; one of the definitive images of that July day – commemorated in song in the hit Three Lions, by David Baddiel, David Skinner and the Lightning Seeds – was of Stiles, socks around his ankles and without his dentures, dancing with the trophy.

Although Alf Ramsey regarded him as a crucial part of his line-up, once staking his own position on keeping him in the squad, Stiles, on the face of it, cut an unprepossessing figure for a footballing superstar.

Besides the false teeth, which he usually left in the dressing room, he was balding, five foot six tall, and so short-sighted and, as a result, clumsy, that his team-mates referred to him as Clouseau. Bobby Charlton described Stiles managing to bump into or break almost everything when the two shared a hotel room, but admitted that, once out on the pitch, it was as if he were “equipped with radar”.

Those skills were probably used to their greatest effect in the semi-final of England’s 1966 World Cup campaign, when they met Portugal. Stiles was given the job of marking Eusébio, regarded as one of the greatest players of the time, who had scored four goals in his previous match; he succeeded in frustrating him at every turn, and England won the match 2-1.

Before the match, when Ramsey instructed Stiles to take the player “out of the game”, he replied: “Do you mean for life, Alf?” In the event, he did so fair and square; after the match, the rest of the team gave Stiles his own round of applause in the dressing-room.

Two years later, Stiles again covered Eusébio at Wembley, with equal success, in the final of the European Cup when Manchester United defeated Benfica 4-1. He was, with Charlton and the Liverpool veteran Ian Callaghan, one of only three English players to have won both the World Cup and the European Cup.

Though he tended to play in defence for Manchester United, in the England squad Stiles had a midfield role, covering defenders, marking the opposition and, above all, tackling and obtaining possession. His standing instructions were brief and to the point: “Win the ball and give it to Bobby Charlton.” He played for the full length of every match in England’s World Cup run.

Norbert Peter Patrick Paul Stiles was born on May 18, 1942, in the Collyhurst district of Manchester into a devout Catholic family – Nobby was an altar boy as a child and, during the 1966 tournament, attended early morning mass every day. His father, Charlie, was an undertaker in the family firm, which Nobby’s grandfather owned, and his mother Kitty worked as a machinist in a mill.

Nobby captained Manchester Boys and played, as a right-half, in the England Schoolboys’ squad. He joined Manchester United as a trainee in 1957, though his parents had been offered a substantial sum by both Bolton and Wolves to sign with them. He made his debut for the first team in October 1960 against Bolton, two years after the Munich air disaster, in which many of the club’s star players had died. Stiles was to prove a critical figure in the reconstruction of the team during the 1960s, and went on to take the First Division title in 1965 and 1967.

He won his first national cap in 1965, against Scotland, in a 2-2 draw at Wembley. His position in the team was threatened during the group stages of the World Cup, when he fouled the French player Jacky Simon so badly that FA officials called for him to be dropped. But Ramsey backed him, and he survived. In all, he played 29 matches for his country; he was selected for the 1970 World Cup squad in Mexico, but in the event remained on the bench.

In 1971, after nearly 400 league games with Manchester United, he was transferred to Middlesbrough, where he lasted two seasons. He then went to Preston North End, where Charlton had become manager, as player-coach, turning out in 46 matches before leaving when Charlton resigned in 1975. Two years later, however, he returned as manager, and in 1978 won the club promotion from Division Three to Division Two.

In the early 1980s, he had a three-year spell in Canada as manager of the Vancouver Whitecaps, before briefly replacing his brother-in-law and former United team-mate Johnny Giles (who spent most of his career with Leeds) as the manager of West Bromwich Albion in 1985. After just four months in the job, though, he returned to Old Trafford as the youth coach, where he supervised the early careers of David Beckham, the Neville brothers and Ryan Giggs.

After being sacked by Alex Ferguson, he made a career as an after-dinner speaker, but he fell on hard times and was frequently short of money; in 2010 he sold his medals to his old club for almost £200,000.

His later years were also marred by ill-health; in 2002 he had a heart attack, and he suffered a stroke in 2010. Three years later he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and began to suffer from dementia, something that his son John, himself a former footballer, attributed to heading the ball in his career. He was appointed MBE in 2000.

Nobby Stiles is survived by his wife Kay (née Giles) and their three sons.