FORMER REPUBLIC OF Ireland football manager and member of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team Jack Charlton died last Friday at the age of 85.
Under his decade long tenure Ireland qualified for its first three international tournaments, including two World Cups in Italy and the USA, along the way defeating his native England in Stuttgart in Euro ’88.
He is survived by wife Pat (nee Kemp), whom he married in 1958, and their three children, John, Deborah and Peter.
Charlton’s granddaughter, ITV journalist Emma Wilkinson, tweeted: “Beyond sad to have to say goodbye to my beloved Grandad, Jack Charlton.
“He enriched so many lives through football, friendship and family. He was a kind, funny and thoroughly genuine man and our family will miss him enormously.”
A family statement said announcing the news: “Jack died peacefully on Friday, July 10 at the age of 85. He was at home in Northumberland, with his family by his side.
“As well as a friend to many, he was a much-adored husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
“We cannot express how proud we are of the extraordinary life he led and the pleasure he brought to so many people in different countries and from all walks of life.
“He was a thoroughly honest, kind, funny and genuine man who always had time for people.
“His loss will leave a huge hole in all our lives but we are thankful for a lifetime of happy memories.”
Big Jack led the Republic of Ireland soccer team to its greatest ever moments in the game. After being appointed to the job in 1986, he led them to qualification for Euro ’88, the country’s first ever major tournament, where they secured a famous win over England.
He would take them to their first World Cup two years later where in Italy in 1990 Jack’s army would inspire a nation and prove the doubters wrong by making it to the quarter-finals, an amazing feat for such a small country.
The Irish were there again in 1994 when Ray Houghton’s goal ensured another famous win, this time over Italy, Ireland’s conquerors in 1990 and the country Irish immigrants to America have long had a rivalry with, in New York of all places.
Tributes have poured in not just from the world of soccer but every facet of Irish life. He treasured his honorary Irish citizenship and Freedom of the City of Dublin.
He died from dementia and lymphoma.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin led the tributes: “So saddened to hear of the passing of Jack Charlton who brought such honesty and joy to the football world.
“He personified a golden era in Irish football-the Italia ’90 campaign being one of pure joy for the nation. He gave us magical memories. Thank you Jack.”
Former Taoiseach and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: “He is Ireland’s most loved Englishman.” He referred to the joy Charlton brought to pre-Celtic Tiger Ireland.
President Michael D Higgins added: “The news of the death of Jack Charlton will have been received with great sadness by those of us who took him to our hearts as he brought Ireland to some of our most celebrated moments in Irish sporting history.
“He leaves a legacy of outstanding leadership of a group of players of many diverse talents, which he moulded into the successful team that captured the imagination of the nation. It was not just the success on the field of play, Jack’s endearing popularity also had much to do with the warmth and personality of the person who quickly became such a legendary sporting icon.
“From a family that loved soccer, he had many connections with Ireland, which he chose for one of his quietest recreations -fishing.
“Sabina and I send our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and his legions of Irish fans.”
Ireland’s ambassador to the UK Adrian O’Neill said: “Sad news. Jack brought us some great football moments. So many fond memories. Our gratitude and condolences to his family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anám.”
The Football Association of Ireland said that it was “deeply saddened” to learn of the death of Jack Charlton, “the manager who changed Irish football forever.
“Our thoughts are with Pat and the family at this sad time.”
Manchester United said: “We are extremely saddened by the passing of Jack Charlton, brother of Sir Bobby and member of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team.”
Leading UK soccer pundit and former England footballer and pundit Gary Lineker, who played against Charlton’s Irish teams at both Euro ’88 and Italia ‘90 said: “Saddened to hear that Jack Charlton has passed away. World Cup winner with England, manager of probably the best ever Ireland side and a wonderfully infectious personality to boot. RIP Jack.”
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald also referred to his nationality: “Jack Charlton was Ireland’s most beloved English man. Sorry to hear of his passing. He kept ‘em all under pressure and kept us all cheering the boys in green on. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”
Charlton was born in Ashington near Newcastle and spent his entire playing career with Leeds United.
He played 35 times for England, notably when it won the 1966 World Cup and when he played alongside his brother Bobby, of Manchester United.
Charlton managed a number of English clubs before he took his over as Ireland manager in 1986, the first foreign manager to hold the post. His run as manager, regarded with cynicism and scepticism at first, has since become regarded as the Golden Age of Irish international soccer, peaking in Italia ’90.
By the time his tenure as manager of the national side ended he was regarded as a national hero and ambassador for his adopted country, regularly returning for freshwater fishing and other engagements.
Mick McCarthy, who took over from Jack as manager of Republic of Ireland, said: “He changed everything for all of us who played for Ireland and just look at the memories we have.
“Jack’s passing will touch Ireland, England and the football world, but the loss to football will be felt in Ireland more than anywhere else.
“English fans will always remember Jack as one of their World Cup winners in 1966 but what he did with Ireland will, I suspect, mean even more to our fans and the country.
“I know this is a sad day but we will remember the great days as well.
“I did speak to him very briefly the day after his birthday [in May] but it was difficult due to his health.
“I told him I loved the bones of him that day and I always will.”
Paul McGrath, who played at Euro ’88 and both World Cups and has had his problems with alcohol well documented, said: “Today, I am truly heartbroken at Jack’s passing.
“It is difficult for me to articulate what Jack meant to me both on and off the football field.
“Throughout his ten years as manager of our International team, Jack backed me as a footballer and as a person – he became a father figure to me.
“He gave me his full support when I needed it most and for which I am forever grateful. He has been a hugely important person in my life.
“The Irish people warmed to him because of his big character and he gave us the belief in ourselves to compete in the big tournaments. I am very honoured to have been a part of Jack’s journey.
“Today is a sad day for the Irish football community and we all owe him a huge gratitude for the joy and memories he has given us.
“He is a man I genuinely loved.
“My thoughts today are with Pat and the Charlton family.
“Thank you Jack – sleep well.”
Kevin Sheedy, who scored for the Irish against England in 1990, said: “So sad to hear of the passing of big Jack. A great manager who transformed Irish football and gave me some of my best footballing moments. He will be sorely missed.”
Niall Quinn, who played in Euro 88 and Italia 90 but missed the World Cup in 1994 due to injury, added: “I’m sure I’m not the only Irish person who shed a tear or two this morning.
“I’m devastated. I am finding it very hard to put into words what Jack meant to the whole country, not just to me and to those of us lucky enough to have played for him in an Ireland shirt.
“Jack Charlton led the band. He brought us, as a players and fans, to places we never thought possible beforehand and gave us so many precious moments. He changed lives. For his players, he gave us the best days of our lives.
“This news has hit me with a bang.
“We have so much to be grateful to Jack for and I am truly saddened, like so many others, with this news today.
“Our thoughts go to Pat and Jack’s family who shared that wonderful journey with us. May he rest in peace.”
Jason McAteer, who was given his international debut by Charlton and played at the 1994 World Cup finals, tweeted: “Can’t speak…… hearts just broke. Love you Jack.”
John Byrne, who was part of Charlton’s squads for Euro 88 and Italia 90, added: “Extremely sad to hear that the great Jack Charlton has passed away.
“I can’t thank him enough for selecting me for the Ireland squads in those brilliant days of the euros and the World Cup in 88 and 90 taking me to places I could only have dreamt of as a kid. RIP Big Jack x”
Kevin Kilbane added: “Such sad news to wake up to this morning.
“Farewell big Jack, you mean so much to Irish people and gave us all the greatest of memories that we’ll cherish forever. #RIPBigJack.Bottom of Form
Eamon Dunphy, who was a vocal critic of Charlton’s tactics and playing style in 1990, told The Irish Independent: “I think he should be remembered for bringing a lot of pride and joy to the country. For his teams always behaving impeccably, whether they won or lost.
“Jack and what he did, touched something profound in the Irish psyche, to do with emigration, losing and not standing on our own two feet. Culture matters so much and this is popular culture at its most powerful.
“Jack lifted a nation.
“One of the things about those times and that Irish team is that there were a lot of people playing who had not been born in Ireland. John Aldridge and Ray Houghton for example were the sons of emigrants and I think that moment brought home to Healy this team, full of the children of children and grandchildren of emigrants, had done this. He got the significance of it. We are not talking football here. We are talking culture, folklore, folk memory.
“You could take the Robert Emmett quote about Ireland not being a nation until we take our place among the nations of the world – well here was Ireland, through the Irish soccer team, taking its place among the world, performing on a global stage, and giving a sense of pride to people.
“The economy was in rag order, the politics was dirty. [Charles] Haughey was in charge and it was a bad time generally. Unemployment was very high and here comes this magical thing of the Irish soccer team and their adventures, and it was a huge adventure.
“When we drew with Russia in 1988 I had flown out and I was staying in the same hotel as them. He saw me at the bar as he was going in for a meal. The team had its own private dining room and he came over with [physio] Mick Byrne and [assistant] Maurice Setters and he asked, ‘Are you on your own?’ I said I was and he said, ‘Why don’t you have dinner with us?’
“I said ‘Jack, are you mad?'” I had been critical of the players under the previous manager, especially people like Mick McCarthy and Frank Stapleton. I said: “Jack, they’ll go f***ing mad’. He said: ‘Ah f*** them. You are coming with me.’
“He grabbed hold of me and dragged me in to the private room. What happened? Mick McCarthy and Frank Stapleton got up and walked out of the room. I said, ‘I told you, Jack’. He said, ‘Get in there and eat your dinner’. He was a force of nature.”
Charlton was an Englishman who took charge of Irish soccer at a time when relations between the two countries were fraught.
Twitter user N16Breda YesWeRepealedThe8th said: “Seeing Jack Charlton trending and being transported back to cheering on Ireland while watching the games in London. Sometimes feeling anxious wearing my Jackie’s army shirt while IRA bombs were going off in London and tube stations were regularly closed by bomb scares.”
Jack was called a traitor for managing the Irish team when the Republic of Ireland were in the same group as England for qualification for Euro ’92. Tony Cascarino wrote in his Sun column years ago: “He had won the World Cup with England but — in contrast to some managers who go on about their own playing careers — I heard Jack mention it only once.
“It was when we played at Wembley in 1991. The home fans were calling him a traitor and it hurt him. I was walking alongside him on the way to the dugout and he said ‘I bloody won the World Cup with you’.
“It wasn’t a boast but he was disappointed with the reception, and remember that the FA hadn’t even bothered replying to him when he’d applied to be England manager.
“That’s why I was so pleased to see both sets of supporters give him such a good reception at the Aviva Stadium when he was introduced to the crowd before the June 2015 friendly.
“It is only right that he is regarded fondly by both countries because of what he did for both.”
Jack was also in charge for the infamous Lansdown Road riot of 1995 when a match against England had to be abandoned due to trouble from the English supporters.
The Republic of Ireland Soccer Supporters Club London Branch said: “RIP Jack Charlton. The man who inspired a nation and gave it a new found love of the Boys in Green.”
Actor Chris O’Dowd said: “The songs you squeezed from us. The hope. The utter joy. Thank you big man. We needed that. Rest well. When all is said and done, you absolutely, positively, gave it a lash.”
John Giles, who played with Jack at Leeds United, told OffTheBall: “It’s very, very sad. He hasn’t been well for a while, John, you know unfortunately.
“Condolences to Pat, Pat’s his wife, is a lovely girl, knew her well in Leeds and got on very well with my wife.
“So it’s a sad day and he’s had a full life, there’s no doubt about that – Big Jack”.
Speaking about Jack’s achievements, John said: “It was great for the country, ’88 and ’90 particularly – the first time we ever qualified for a major competition.
“So I think Jack popularised the game in a way that it had never been popularised before.
“People in Ireland who, in my opinion, didn’t have that much interest in soccer before – because the country got there, followed them all the way and it definitely popularised the game in a big way.
“I didn’t get on very well with him as a team mate, we had different ideas about the game.
“Jack was a big centre-half and he saw the game through the big centre-half’s eyes.
“So we didn’t have the same philosophy on the game in a big way – but we respected each other, he was the best centre-half as I said for at least five or six years in the first division.
“And off the pitch we got on very, very well”.
“There was no two sides to Jack, as they say, that’s what he was.
“He could mix well, he was a great after-dinner speaker by the way, he was terrific at it.
“I don’t think Jack ever suffered with nerves on anything – he just was what he was, he got on with anybody.”