HEARTBROKEN Alan Shearer paid tribute to ‘giant’ Nobby Stiles — but said his family are still waiting for answers on possible football-related dementia.
Stiles died on Friday at the age of 78 — the seventh member of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning starting XI to pass away.
England stars past and present have been paying tribute to Nobby Stiles, who sadly passed away on FridayCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Stiles, Martin Peters, Jack Charlton and Ray Wilson have all died since 2018 after living with dementia.
Former England striker Shearer made a powerful BBC documentary in 2017 investigating whether there is a link between heading footballs and the brain syndrome.
Stiles’ family featured on the programme after the Manchester United icon was revealed to be suffering from advanced dementia in 2016.
Shearer believes serious questions need to be answered, especially as footballs were heavier in the past.
And he added that funding for ground-breaking research is due to run out next year.
Shearer, 50, said: “We had spoken to the family when we did the documentary.
“As you can imagine, they were pretty angry in terms of the lack of answers — and the research has started.
“There are about six months left of the funding and then there are serious questions about where it goes from there.
Alan Shearer says Stiles family are waiting on answers on whether the World Cup winner (right) suffered from football-related dementiaCredit: Getty Images – Getty
“That needs to be answered because there is no way it can be stopped. There are too many families who need those answers.
“There are too many families that are being left alone and are unable to fund what they need to.
“So there is still work to be done and hopefully that will continue to happen.
“It’s unbelievably sad news. Obviously, I was aware of him and the struggles with him and his family.
“It’s terrible news that another one of our giants has sadly passed away — his record, winning the World Cup and helping England, was incredible. Such a sad day for football again.”
Manchester United fans have been laying flowers outside Old Trafford in honour of Red Devils hero Stiles Credit: Getty Images – Getty
Manchester United fans left touching tributes to Stiles outside Old Trafford, while the players will wear black armbands and observe a minute’s silence at today’s Premier League clash with Arsenal.
Stiles won two league titles and the 1968 European Cup during an 11-year career with the Red Devils.
He was someone who the fans saw as a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy
But he will be most remembered for that glorious summer 54 years ago which culminated in a 4-2 victory over West Germany in the World Cup final.
The sight of Stiles dancing around the Wembley pitch while holding aloft the trophy remains one of the defining images of English football. In 2000, he was awarded an MBE.
Members of United’s famous Class of 92 paid their respects over the weekend.
Manchester United’s old rivals Liverpool are among the clubs who observed a minute’s silence in honour of Stiles following his deathCredit: Getty – Pool
Former midfielder Stiles helped the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers while working as a youth team coach between 1989 and 1993.
Former Red Devils defender Rio Ferdinand said: “He was someone who the fans saw as a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy.
His contribution to that World Cup success was enormous. Everyone who knows football understands and respects that
“He was always charismatic and a lovely person to be around.
“The impact he had on football I don’t think is valued as highly as it could have been.
“He was a fantastic competitor — very modest and down to earth.”
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson, 73, said: “Like all football lovers and being very much a keen spectator of that wonderful final, my image will forever be of Nobby at the end of the game.
“He had given his heart, his soul around the field, putting so much effort into protecting the England lead.
“His contribution to that World Cup success was enormous. Everyone who knows football understands and respects that.
“I do know other members of the team and they’ve spoken to me about how highly they valued his contributions. What a wonderful job he did.”
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