John Giles: There are a lot of cases out there where former footballers have suffered and suffered badly

Ireland and Leeds United legend discusses the issue of duty of care to former footballers

John Giles,

John Giles ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

In 1968, Nobby Stiles started the European Cup final as Manchester United triumphed over Benfica.

Two years earlier, the former midfielder also started as England won the 1966 World Cup.

During a successful career with his hometown Man United, he also won two league titles during the 1960s.

Stiles is now 74 years of age. He has been suffering from dementia and his current situation was discussed in an article in the Independent this week.

In the article, it is stated that in his case "the sorrow is multiplied by a sense that the mainstay of England’s World Cup triumph and Manchester United’s 1968 European Cup has not been afforded the thought and care he might have done by his beloved game, amid the struggle of his fading years. Most of all, the family thought that football – and particularly the Professional Footballers’ Association - would have shown a commitment within Stiles’ lifetime to complete research on the link between heading a football and degenerative brain disease. Definitive research has not even started."

Ireland and Leeds United legend John Giles played with his brother-in-law Stiles at Man United until 1963 and spoke to Off The Ball about the newspaper article.

Manchester United's Nobby Stiles (c) tries to console teammate David Sadler (l) as they leave the pitch after Leeds United's 1-0 win, watched by Leeds United's Johnny Giles (r). Picture by PA Photos PA Archive/PA Images

And he also spoke about the issue of whether football's leading institutions have a duty of care to former players.

"From what I can gather from the Professional Footballers' Association and the FA in England, there's a policy that you have to approach them rather than the other way round," he said, adding that "most people wouldn't do that".

"People have their pride. They don't want to do that." 

As John explained, the PFA is a "very wealthy organisation" nowadays. 

While the players of today earn high salaries, that wasn't the case for footballers from previous eras including times when there was a maximum wage in place.

"None of the players that I knew were financially secure when they finished playing," said John.

"But the lads in Nobby's time and my time, there's a lot of cases out there where lads have suffered and suffered badly."