"Your studs are your best friend out there."

Those were the words of Gary Neville paying homage to another Manchester United great, Nobby Stiles, on social media as tributes flooded in on Friday evening.

Neville was one of many football icons, past and present, to send their condolences after the it was confirmed today the former England and United legend had sadly died aged 78 after a long-standing battle against prostate cancer and dementia.

Stiles had left a lasting impression on Neville, Manchester United and the hearts of a nation.

Stiles grew up in Collyhurst, an economically-challenged part of inner-city Manchester and where a street now bears his name, after the second World War.

He realised his boyhood dream in November 1959 as he became Old Trafford's latest apprentice.

Those humble beginnings shaped the character that went on to make more than 300 appearances in the famous red and earn a place in history as an England World Cup winner.

Stiles' father was an undertaker and signed his first papers at Old Trafford after travelling to the stadium in the unconventional manner that typified his career.

Stiles holds his 1966 World Cup tournament cap

"My father Charlie was an undertaker in the area we lived and when we got the call to go to Old Trafford to sign my contract, he said: 'Jump in son and I will take you down there.' Now 'jump in son' meant in his hearse," Stiles remembered.

Stiles made his debut only a year later under Sir Matt Busby, albeit there were a few bumps in the road in his early days.

The vast number of mistimed tackles that came from Stiles' unforgiving leather boots led the United boss to send him in for an eye test, with Busby's suspicions proven correct.

That was Stiles. Unconventional, far from glamorous, but with the spirit that epitomised Manchester United. An underdog and a winner.

Now equipped with 20-20 vision, or as close to in those days, Stiles made a name for himself as a tough-tackling full-back, until a tactical decision from Busby changed his career forever.

The Manchester United boss utilised his eye for a challenge and Stiles became a 'six', an old-school defensive midfielder, tasked with breaking up play, by whatever means necessary, and distributing to Bobby Charlton, Dennis Law and George Best who would be gleefully waiting upfield.

It was a match made in heaven and Stiles never looked back, for club or for country.

Nobby, right, kisses the Jules Rimet trophy as Bobby Moore, centre, and Sir Alf Ramsey look on

He remains one of only three Englishmen, alongside Charlton and former Liverpool player Ian Callaghan, to win both the World Cup and European Cup, having lifted the 'big-eared' trophy in 1968.

He remained at Old Trafford until 1971, before finishing his career with Middlesbrough and Preston North End.

Stiles was the heartbeat of the United team that claimed the 1964-65 league title, which catapulted him onto the national stage after catching the eye of England boss Sir Alf Ramsey.

To maximise the talents of the country's finest attackers, Stiles was the fulcrum of the England side that headed to the 1966 World Cup.

Stiles made his England debut against Scotland at Wembley in April 1965 and was undroppable from that day, although his tenacious and often uneasy-on-the-eye approach drew some criticism from the press and even the Football Association.

Nobby Stiles makes a triumphant return to Old Trafford in February 1972

It never phased Ramsey though, who, like Busby, understood the importance of Stiles unapologetic methods, despite the FA's insistence that he should be dropped from the side after England's final group match against France.

Stiles was cut a marmite figure in public but remained an integral cog in the England team that matched an incredibly physical and hostile Argentina side, before 'pocketing', as would be the phrase today, Portugal superstar Eusebio to reach the final.

"Alf always called me by my full name of Norbert. Just before the Portugal match he took me to one side and said: 'Norbert, I want you to take Eusebio out,'" Stiles previously revealed.

"I replied: 'Do you mean for the game Alf, or for good?'"

Then came West Germany, a game famed for Geoff Hurst and Norman Peters but remembered for Stiles, the day football came home.

That was the story behind the photo. The famous picture that will be ingrained in every England fans' hearts.

Little five-foot-six Stiles, false teeth out, socks down to the ankles, gripping tightly on the Jules Rimet Trophy aloft in his right hand.

Unconventional, far from glamorous, but triumphant, a born winner.