Old Trafford farewell for Nobby Stiles
Nobby Stiles was applauded at Old Trafford once again on Thursday afternoon as the funeral procession for the late, great Manchester United legend visited his former home ground.
The World Cup and European Cup-winning legend passed away on 30 October, aged 78, after a long illness. A private service took place at Manchester Crematorium and on its way there, the hearse travelled past the stadium where Stiles made his name as a combative and highly respected midfielder in the 1960s.
Poignantly, it paused near the statues of Nobby's United manager, Sir Matt Busby, and three of his most famous team-mates, namely George Best, Sir Bobby Charlton and Denis Law.
Another of his friends and former colleagues, Paddy Crerand, was among a small, socially distanced group of local fans who gathered on the forecourt to pay their respects.
"Nobby was a fanatical Manchester United supporter," Paddy told us. "He loved the club, he loved playing for the club.
"He was a great character in the dressing room and a great character on the pitch. He used to wear contact lenses for every game, which gave him a good excuse for some of the tackles he used to make - he could just say one of his lenses had slipped!
“To look at Nobby off the pitch, you wouldn't have thought he was a footballer but what a great footballer he was. He had that grit and gave everything he had. He loved Manchester United with a passion.
“He was a great friend and a great team-mate. The camaraderie we had at the club was terrific and we always used to have a great laugh with Nobby. Everybody loved him.”
Remembering a true United greatGallery
Check out these classic pics on the day the late Nobby Stiles would have turned 80...
Coronavirus restrictions limited the number of people who were able to be at the stadium today but the club can confirm a memorial event for Nobby will take place at Old Trafford once fans are allowed to attend home games again.
In the meantime, a special banner in memory of the much-loved legend will make its first appearance inside the stadium, after supporters' group Stretford End Flags consulted his family. The final design, as selected by Nobby's granddaughter, will be displayed when the Reds take on West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Saturday 21 November.
The banner features two images of the icon in action - one in black and white, the other in colour - alongside the words 'Nobby' and 'Manchester born and Red'.