sport news The night Eusebio was shackled and England WON a semi-final due to Nobby Stiles ...

sport news The night Eusebio was shackled and England WON a semi-final due to Nobby Stiles ...
sport news The night Eusebio was shackled and England WON a semi-final due to Nobby Stiles ...

It was a night when Bobby Charlton slammed in two trademark goals from the edge of the penalty box and Nobby Stiles shackled Eusebio after a stroke of tactical wizardry by manager Alf Ramsey.

Tears flowed and a nation rejoiced, although the last semi-final England won was utterly eclipsed by the epic final that followed four days later.

Two heartbreaking semi-finals in the Nineties lost on penalties rankle instead and another in Moscow, three years ago, remains fresh in the mind. 

One of England's most famous semi-final victories was the World Cup semi-final back in 1966

One of England's most famous semi-final victories was the World Cup semi-final back in 1966

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There was distant semi-final misery in the Euros at the hands of Yugoslavia, in Florence in 1968, most often recalled because Alan Mullery was the first England player to be sent off in a full international. 

But, two years earlier, on a Wednesday night in July, inspired by Stiles, England beat Portugal 2-1 at Wembley and reached the World Cup final. 

'Dad was never one to say he was brilliant,' recalled Nobby's son Rob Stiles. 'He wouldn't brag but we'd get him talking and he thought he played well, marked Eusebio well that day. Others have always said to me it was his greatest ever game.

'Portugal were a great team and Eusebio was probably the most feared player in the world at the time. Alf recognised the danger and changed the system a bit, moving Dad into the back four and Bobby Moore into a midfield position, which was a masterstroke.'

Stiles had been feeling the heat since a foul on France's Jacques Simon during England's last group game led to pressure on the FA from FIFA to drop him for the quarter-final against Argentina.  

England midfielder Nobby Stiles (r) was tasked with marking Portuguese forward Eusebio (l)

England midfielder Nobby Stiles (r) was tasked with marking Portuguese forward Eusebio (l)

When summoned to see the FA's senior international committee, Ramsey told them he would resign if they forced him to play without Stiles. 

The aggressive midfield enforcer from Manchester United, who died last year at the age of 78, was key to the team's balance and crucial to his plans for Eusebio.

'Dad's game was all about his professional dedication and commitment,' said son Rob. 'No matter how big a star Eusebio was, he was determined to nullify him to some extent.

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'He knew you couldn't dive in or sell yourself, as he used to say, or he would beat you and get a shot away.

'Four years before, Dad was told to man-mark John White in an FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham but he got away from him once and it led to a goal. He realised then that if you were marking the best players you

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