Johnny Giles became the youngest player to win a full cap for the
Republic of Ireland at 4 days shy of his 19th birthday having come to
prominence at Old Trafford. Having picked up an FA Cup Winners medal
in May 1963, it was a considerable surprise to see Giles decide to
move across the Pennines that August - but it was to prove to be
a great move for both the club and the player.
Giles was an immensely talented player - but he wouldn't have
survived long in the game in the 1960s if he didn't have a tough side,
but he usually managed to deflect the ire of the referees, even if his
opponents always knew they'd been in a tough game. He picked up quite
a few of his goals from the penalty spot, but his dominance of the
midfield made many goals for a whole series of strikers at Leeds.
When Don Revie left Leeds, he recommended Giles as his successor.
The board disagreed, and Giles left at the end of the following season
to spend a couple of years at West Brom as player-manager. Having
dragged the Baggies back up to Division 1, Giles went on to manage
Shamrock Rovers, winning the FAI Cup, and then on the other side of the
Atlantic for Philadelphia Fury and Vancouver Whitecaps. He also served
as manager of the Republic of Ireland, had a second stint at West Brom
and now has a regular column in a national newspaper.
Giles' immense contribution to the game was widely recognised, and
when his testimonial came around the FAI granted him a game at Lansdowne
Road - the first time that they had allowed an England-based player such
Harry Prince says: I was privileged to play alongside John Giles in
the juniors at Man United in the 1956/57 and 1957/58 seasons. I could
tell by then he was such a great player at the age of fifteen. Later
on I met up with John when he moved to Leeds Utd and I went to Elland
Road to home matches in the 1970's. I was lucky enough to receive
complimentary tickets for myself and family from John. In the late
seventies and eighties I travelled to West Brom where John was player
manager, and more recently met him at afterdinner speeches and always
found him the same socialable lad.
Jo Giles says: Hi, my name is Joanna Giles...yes I'm Johnny's
daughter and I really appreciate all the nice comments you've written
about my dad! I would love to tell you some stories don't hesitate to
get in touch. Jo x
David says: John played with my dad in Ireland as a schoolboy with
the famous nursery club Stella Maris. His first match at old trafforrd
was as an under 14 for Stella Maris against a Manchester Queens Park
Selection prior to the Man United V Real Madrid - European Cup Semi
Final in 1957. John was capped under 15 for Ireland and played against
England who had John Osbourne later of (WBA) in goal for them. Prior
to that he played for a schoolboy side in Dublin called - the
'leprechauns'. John's dad Dickie was also a very good player who
played with Shamrock Rovers in his day.
Charlie Gillen says: I spent my whole childhood watching Johnny
Giles play soccer for Leeds and feeling so proud to watch an Irish man
play soccer so well. He was an immense talent. Without a doubt the
greatest soccer player Ireland has ever produced
Frank says: I've met John on numerous occasions and I've actually
painted the box room in his mansion in Ballymun. Hes easily the
quintessential Irish gentleman. On a sad note I think he may have
knocked a few out to my wife.
Des Brady says: I first saw him in a pre-season friendly against my
first love Bradford City in 1968. It was as though he was 25% faster
than everyone else on the pitch - including Bremner
Stephen Toal says: I'm too young to have seen him play but he is
without doubt the best soccer analyst on television.
Klaus Kynast says: Am 18. August 1971 habe ich gegen Johnny Giles
in Blackpool beim Spiel It's a Knockout mit Fubllen auf Pappkameraden
geschossen. Gibt es hierzu noch Fernsehaufzeichnungen?
Garrett McGovern says: My best mate's family grew up with the Giles
family in Dublin.Some years ago my friend was working in Birmingham
and sharing a house with Johnny's son Jimmy(a fabulous fellow!).Jimmy
kindly organised it for me to watch Nottingham Forest v Man U. at his
dad's house.I'd never met the great man before but I will never forget
the generosity his family showed me.Anne,his wife,greeted me with the
tastiest steak and chips imagineable!
We watched the game as
Andy Cole missed his customary hatful of chances and United scraped a
draw.Hearing Johnny do his punditry in his own living room was an
education.After a thoroughly enjoyable evening,Johnny gave me and
Jimmy a lift home.We cursed Andy Cole all the way back in the
car.Getting out he asked me whether I thought United would win the
title.'With Cole up front' I replied 'no chance'.Johnny smiled in
agreement.That was the 95-96 season and we all know what happened
there.Well,the legend is only human after all!
David Dewayne Giles says: My name is David Dewayne Giles from the
U.S.A. Ihave traced my Roots back to A John Giles who Live here In
1765 You maybe Family.
Tony says: Malcolm McDonald says Giles was the dirtiest player he
ever came up against. McDonald tells of having a shot at goal, missing
by miles, and taking time out to watch the ball drop down gently from
Row Z. Only then did Giles's tackle, from behind, of course, make
contact with Malcolm's leg. Probably apochryphal,but a good story, I
hope you will agree.
Ken from Leeds says: The best 2 footed player I have ever seen.
Fantastic passer of a ball. Took corners with either left or right
John Pickles says: I can still see Johnny Giles pivot around and
sore the goal that helped us beat Notts Forest 1-0 to take the title
with a record number of points. he was my 2nd hero (after Kevin
Hector)and my no1 Leeds player. I have never seen a footballer yet who
could put the ball on the end of someone's toe like Johnny Giles and
that includes David Beckham!
Ian says: Nice to find out in the new Nobby Stiles autobiography
that Sir Matt admitted his greatest mistake (I didn't know he made
that many) was to let Johnny Giles go at all, and not just for the
giveaway price of £33,000. At that money, even the Frenchman
seems dear. Everybody has their own time, but Johnny Giles from 1963
until 1975 was out there on his own, and in white. Going back to Sir
Matt, he had to sit and watch at the City Ground in 1965 when one big
man sent the ball sailing into the six yard box from the centre circle
for another big man to head it into the net. Giles and
Bremner. Absolute GIANTS.
Andrew Furniss says: Growing up playing football I used to pretend
to be Johnny Giles...using both feet and trying to copy is passing
prowess. Of course I failed miserably but to this day I still pretend
to be john giles when i play with my son Louis. Todays players have no
idea how football should really be played. Tell your dad Joanna what a
privilege it was to watch a master craftsman at work with a
football. Thankyou John Giles ....wishing you well in your golden
years....this Fan will never forget !!!
greg horan says: when john left united, and george best arrived at
no 7 i vowed not to go again! been going ever since
Joe Breen says: John Giles is the greatest player to ever wear a
green jersey, you have to love the man. He is the best pundit on
telly, so good you don't mind listening to Eamon Dunphy.
Adam Stops says: He is a bad television pundit!!
Pam says: my husband Harry used to play with John for
Man. Utd. juniors and when John left to play for Leeds, our family
would go to watch him at every home game and most "aways" happy
Anthony Stainsby says: Hello, i attended primary school with Johns
son micheal (our ladys) in leeds. I lost contact with him after our
primary education but know he relocated to vancouver canada with his
family. I also now live in canada (since 1980 in calgary alberta) and
often wonder how he's doing. if you could help in any way it would be
greatly appreciated, either by forwarding my address to him or other
means i would be truly thankfull. Anthony