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Jack Charlton hailed as a ‘proud honorary Irishman’ as thousands pay tribute to football legend

Charlton’s grandchildren said they have been “overwhelmed” with kind messages from Ireland.

Updated Jul 21st 2020, 8:20 PM

2.54674354 Source: PA Images

THE GRANDCHILDREN OF Jack Charlton have paid tribute to “a proud Englishman, a proud northerner and a proud honorary Irishman” at his funeral service.

The eulogy to the football great came at a private family service which followed remarkable scenes in Ireland and in his home town of Ashington, Northumberland, where thousands lined the streets to pay respect to the football legend.

In Dublin there was a repeat of the famous scenes at the Walkinstown roundabout, following Ireland’s historic victory over Romania at Italia ’90, as hundreds of people turned out to pay tribute to ‘Big Jack’ and his contribution to Ireland.

walk Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Ashington was where he and his brother Bobby honed their skills years before they lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy, and where they spent many hours in the back lane behind Beatrice Street.

The family said Bobby Charlton was not well enough to attend the service at Newcastle Crematorium.

bobby A floral tribute for Jack Charlton at his funeral from his brother Sir Bobby. Source: Peter Byrne/PA

Charlton’s coffin was draped with scarves from England, Ireland, Leeds and Newcastle United.

In their tribute, grandchildren Emma, Kate and Tom Wilkinson spoke of his record-breaking career with Leeds United, his time coinciding with the West Yorkshire side’s most successful years.

2.54673595 Flags decorated houses in the Northumberland town. Source: Owen Humphreys/PA

The grandchildren said that he had never expected to be called up for England – his first cap came shortly before he was 30.

Their eulogy continued: “And on that famous day in July 1966, as the final whistle blew on English football’s most historic moment, he dropped to his knees, head in hands.

“Many have often wondered what he was thinking – was it pure elation? Was it the gravity of the achievement?

“Was it relief that the hopes of a nation had been realised? Well he always told us he was just bloody knackered.”

2.54674390 People of all ages lined the streets in Charlton’s home town of Ashington. Source: Owen Humphreys/PA

He turned to management, eventually sealing his reputation with tremendous success as Republic of Ireland boss.

His grandchildren said: “Ireland was a great fit for Grandad, the people, the ‘craic’, the salmon fishing, the Guinness – and a bit of football thrown in.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with kind messages from Ireland – one that really stuck out said Grandad ‘did the near-impossible and transcended politics – some called him the English Irishman, but why reference the divides and mountains he so affably rose above? Simply, he was both a man and the man’.”

2.54673475 Charlton enjoyed success as Republic of Ireland manager, leading them to the World Cup quarter finals in 1990. Source: Owen Humphreys/PA

They added: “His achievements in England and Ireland brought him great recognition, but he always had his feet firmly on the ground – in fact he found fame endearingly novel and he would have been really chuffed with all the nice things people have been saying about him in the past week or so.

“He was rightly proud of all his footballing achievements and they helped shape the person he was, but they are just parts of a life full of love, generosity, and a lot of laughs.”

The family was touched by many kind messages they have received from fans, saying: “It’s clear that the many fleeting moments of kindness he showed to strangers had a lasting impact, and we’re extremely proud to be able to say that the man everyone met is the man we knew.

coffin The coffin of Jack Charlton is taken into West Road Crematorium in Newcastle for his funeral. Source: Peter Byrne/PA

“A man who struck the balance so perfectly between football icon, fan favourite and loving family man.”

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After the service, the family added: “We’d like to thank people who turned out on the streets of Ashington, we were all overwhelmed and he would have been thrilled by the outpouring of kindness.”

Well-wishers threw flowers on the hearse as it passed slowly through the town where he and his younger brother Sir Bobby honed their football skills.

Football fans also held tributes in Ireland, with crowds gathering to pay tribute to the legendary manager who led the country to the 1988 European Championship and the 1990 and 1994 World Cups.

dublin Irish football fans gathered in Dublin to celebrate the life of former Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton. Source: Niall Carson/PA

The Football Association of Ireland had called on all Republic fans to wear green in memory of Charlton.

fans-gather-at-walkinstown-roundabout-to-pay-tribute-to-jack-charlton Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

In Mayo, a Jack Charlton mural was unveiled in Ballina in front of a gathering of supporters. 

Charlton was well-known in the town having visited it for many years dating back to his time as Ireland boss. He was an avid angler and loved nothing more than to spend his days off fishing on the River Moy. 

Irishman Patrick Wilson and his family were among those in Ashington town centre to pay their respects.

The 68-year-old civil engineer, who is originally from Rahugh, Co Westmeath, but now lives in Longframlington, Northumberland, said: “We look at him as a humble person, a man for the people.

“He was a simple sort of person with no airs or graces. Everyone was the same in Jack’s eyes.”

Charlton died earlier this month aged 85.

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