By Andrew Atkinson
When England kick off their final Group game against Belgium on June 28 at the 2018 World Cup in Russia forgotten hero Nobby Stiles will know little of it.
Stiles, capped 28 times, who celebrated his 76th birthday last month, has dementia.
The former England and Manchester United star, who was also diagnosed with prostrate cancer five years ago, will be watching the game in his Manchester home.
But Nobby, 1966 World Cup winner, will know little, if anything, of the current status of England’s status.
Having been diagnosed with dementia 16 years ago he has worsened as the years pass.
Added to the toothless midfield general woes, Stiles suffered a mini stroke in 2010.
Memories of Stiles joyfully dancing after England’s 66 World Cup win against West Germany at Wembley – grinning missing front teeth – will be forever remembered.
Stiles made over 300 appearances at United, and played for my home town club Preston North End during 1973-75.
He went on to manage the club during 1977-81. England and United legend Bobby Charlton also played for and managed Preston.
My thoughts will be focused on England against Belgium on Friday – but also on Stiles, who will go down as one of the Three Lions greatest players, as he suffers the battle against dementia.
The sorry story for Stiles is that he’s the forgotten hero. And one who sold his 66 World Cup winner’s medal that brought £166,000.
A pittance in today’s multi million game – a far cry from that of 1966.