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 an honour.
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
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
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
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
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
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 days!
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.