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Johnny Giles

Personal information
Full nameMichael John Giles
Date of birth6 November 1940(age 76)
Place of birthOrmond Square, Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Height5 ft 7 in (1.70m)
Playing positionCentral Midfielder

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Michael John "Johnny" Giles (born 6 November 1940, in Ormond Square, Dublin, Ireland) is a former association footballer and manager best remembered for his time as a midfielder with Leeds United in the 1960s and 1970s. Giles grew up in Ormond Square, a working-class area of inner-city Dublin, where he developed much of the skills that would aid him in becoming a professional footballer. He was encouraged to enter the game through his father Christy who played for Bohemians in the 1920s and managed Drumcondra during the 1940s.

The FAI voted Giles as the greatest Republic of Ireland player of the last 50 years at the UEFA Jubilee Awards in 2004.

In 2006, he was chosen by supporters at Elland Road as a member of the best ever Leeds United XI.

England's World Cup winning manager, Sir Alf Ramsey, said of Giles' influence as a player on English football:

"As I look at all the talent and character at my disposal today, my one regret is that John Giles wasn't born an Englishman."

After Manchester United manager, Sir Matt Busby, later realised his error in allowing Giles to depart for Leeds, he said:

"Selling him to Leeds, not seeing his potential as a midfield player, was my greatest mistake in football."

For Giles' on field abilities, his former boss at Leeds, Brian Clough, wrote of him in his autobiography:
"Giles could grab hold of a match, tuck it in his back pocket, and carry it around with him. He didn't need to find space, it was as if space found him."

On his knowledge of the game, Clough continued:
"I never did get to know John Giles, still don't. I wish things could have been different at Leeds and we could have got our heads and our talents together over a longish period of time. Who knows? Giles could have been my Peter Taylor."

After winning an FA Cup winners medal under Busby at United, Giles moved to Leeds in 1963 where he played in midfield alongside skipper Billy Bremner. The duo went on to form a central midfield partnership which was one of the best in English club football. Their pairing helped yield several major trophies in the most successful era in Leeds' history. By strange coincidence, Giles and Bremner would both score exactly 115 goals for the club, casting doubt on the modern penchant for "holding" midfield players.

In his later years in football, Giles pursued a managerial career which saw him installed as player-manager and manager of, among others, West Bromwich Albion, the Republic of Ireland, and Shamrock Rovers. Despite having an outstanding knowledge of the game, Giles personally never liked being a manager. He became disillusioned with aspects of the job, such as suffering at the hands of non-committal boardrooms, and left management permanently in 1985. He later declared that he had no regrets about quitting managerial life.

Subsequently, after repeated encouragement from childhood friend Eamon Dunphy, Giles would inadvertently enter the world of football punditry in 1986. He has since gone on to establish himself as a highly respected analyst on RTÉ Sport. In addition, he writes two columns per week for Irish newspaper, the Evening Herald, and offers his opinions about the game on radio station, Newstalk 106.

Giles resides in the Harborne area of the city of Birmingham in England. He has played golf for many years, and at one time, played off a handicap of five, but with his advancing age his handicap has risen to 12, "a bad 12" he claims. To coincide with his 70th birthday, Giles compiled a first ever autobiography chronicling his life in and outside of football which was released in November 2010. The autobiography, titled 'A Football Man', became the best selling book in the Republic of Ireland. In it, he claims to be an admirer of cricket where he attended the occasional game in his spare time as a footballer.

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