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As the saying goes, though, any publicity is good publicity and the attention is only likely to add to the already high level of interest that these auctions have generated - it may even help the two great players' collections bring a very welcome fillip to the memorabilia market.

After a disappointing summer with confidence hardly lifted by England's unimpressive performance in the World Cup, and with few top football lots coming to the market, the sales at Bonhams and Convery Auctions could raise over £500,000 - an amount not seen in the sector since the auction series in the summer of 2005.

When it was made public that the Manchester United and England great Nobby Stiles would be selling 45 lots of memorabilia at Convery Auctions' in Edinburgh on October 27 - including his 1966 World Cup winner's medal - some football commentators thought it scandalous that such a legend of the game should be selling his prized possessions for financial reasons when the sport is so awash with money.

However, Nobby Stiles, 68, who suffered a stroke in June, said in a statement that his decision to sell his collection had been taken after much soul searching. "It was always my intention to leave the entire collection to my children," he said. "But I have three sons - how do you fairly divide up this sort of collection between them?

"I'm as patriotic as the next Englishman... but at this stage of my life, I would rather have some control over the distribution of my memorabilia and know that my family will benefit."

One of his sons told BBC Radio 5 Live that, while he hoped an offer might emerge to keep the collection together, ideally from a museum, the family would be happy to see the items sell at auction for a fair price. He added that the medals had been kept in a bank, while some of the shirts were in a box in the loft.

The World Cup winner's medal is understandably the highlight of the collection and is estimated at £100,000-150,000 at Convery Auctions.

Nobby Stiles is not the first of the victorious 1966 team to sell his winner's medal: Sir Geoff Hurst, Gordon Banks, George Cohen, Ray Wilson and Martin Peters have all done so, as did the late Alan Ball, whose medal made £140,000 at Christie's South Kensington in May 2005 and holds the auction record for any football medal.

Captain Bobby Moore's 1966 winner's medal was part of the player's collection sold posthumously to the West Ham club museum in 2000.

Other items from the Nobby Stiles collection at Convery Auctions are his 1966 World Cup cap (estimate: £20,000-30,000); his 1968 European Cup winner's medal (estimate: £20,000-30,000); his blue Manchester United shirt worn in the same final against Benfica (estimate: £15,000-20,000); and Alan Ball's 1966 World Cup Final shirt (estimate: £20,000-30,000), which Stiles acquired from Ball in a swap after the match.

Meanwhile, Bonhams Chester will offer 13 lots from George Best's collection on October 20. The financial needs of the former Manchester United and Northern Ireland winger's estate have forced the sale.

The highlight is Best's 1968 European Cup winner's medal, secured alongside Stiles, when Best scored the winning goal in extra time in their famous 4-1 victory. It is estimated at £90,000-120,000.

The consignment also includes a replica of his European Cup winner's medal, which was made by the Professional Footballers' Association after Best misplaced the original. It is estimated at £8000-10,000.

The 13 lots at Bonhams have a combined pre-sale estimate of £195,000-270,000.

By Alex Capon

Where are they now? The story of the 1966 medals

Gordon Banks - sold for £110,000 hammer to anonymous phone bidder, Christie's South Kensington, March 2001.

George Cohen - failed on a £60,000 reserve at Christie's in 1998, but sold to a private collector after the sale. Reportedly then sold to his old club, Fulham, for £80,000.

Ray Wilson - sold for £70,000 hammer, Christie's South Kensington, March 2002.

Bobby Moore - sold as part of a £1m-plus private treaty sale of the player's collection to West Ham's club museum. Deal brokered by Christie's in July 2000. The medal is now on display in Upton Park.

Jackie Charlton - retained by player. Said he would never consider selling it.

Alan Ball - sold for £140,000 hammer, Christie's South Kensington, May 2005.

Nobby Stiles - offered by Convery Auctions later this month.

Martin Peters - sold privately in 2001 to West Ham United. Also on display in the club museum.

Bobby Charlton - retained by player (on loan to Manchester United club museum).

Roger Hunt - retained by player.

Sir Geoff Hurst - sold his collection at Christie's South Kensington in September 2000 (including his 1966 shirt for £80,000 hammer), but kept his medal before selling it privately with other items from his collection for £150,000 to West Ham in 2001.

Note: Manager Sir Alf Ramsey did not get a medal in 1966 but was awarded one posthumously in June 2009 along with the rest of the non-playing members. These medals differed in design from the originals.