‘He was like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’
Manchester United legend John Aston Jr. is the latest guest on the UTD Podcast and the 1968 European Cup winner shares some remarkable tales - including this one about his team-mate Nobby Stiles.
The Reds famously had to overcome Real Madrid in the semi-final and while Bill Foulkes stole the headlines in the second leg - scoring our third goal on the night to make it 4-3 on aggregate - Aston claims that Stiles’s “nasty” streak heavily swayed the tie in United’s fixture.
“There were 130,000 people [in the crowd] and Nobby knocked somebody out but nobody saw it except me,” said Aston, who went on to be United's Man of the Match in the final against Benfica.
“There were 130,000 people, and [only] one camera in the middle of the field. Madrid had a corner. It comes over and I can remember the ball bouncing and it was hoofed into the stratosphere.
“I’d come back to mark this guy [and] in the middle was Amancio and Nobby in front of him, and we are all 18 inches to two feet away from each other walking out, or jogging out of the 18-yard box. As they got to around the penalty spot, this Amancio wrapped Nobby around the ankles with his foot. And as he came [past], Nobby hit him.
“It’s the only time I have ever seen anybody knocked out on a football field. He was out.”
Aston recalls that the referee noticed the stricken Real Madrid player and halted play, prompting a long stoppage.
“He blew his whistle to stop the game. Two trainers ran on who had not seen it and they get there and the guy’s out. They can’t bring him round.
“So the trainers call for the doctor who was on the bench. The doctor came on and eventually, they got him on his feet smelling salt. Just like a boxer, he [was knocked] out.
“They get him on his feet and Nobby’s about five or six yards away. As he looks up, this Amancio, Nobby lifted his arm up and I thought he was going to say ‘sorry’ as a gesture, and he put his finger across his throat!”
Aston added: “[People] talk about Bill Foulkes scoring. [Stiles] did as much to win us the game as anything.
“When you trained with [Stiles], if you went near him he’d jump out the way. [But] come Saturday, come match day, [he put his] contact lenses [and changed].
“The nearest thing I can tell you about Nobby is Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. He was Dr Jekyll off the field, and he was Mr Hyde on it.
“He used to change; his personality was like flicking a switch. He became cruel. He became nasty. But he was very affable. He was an easy-going bloke off the field. [He was] some man you know."
The new episode of UTD Podcast, featuring John Aston Jr., will be available on ManUtd.com and in the United App from Monday afternoon. You can find all previous episodes here.