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Charlton managed Ireland between 1986-1996. RTÉ Archives
Big Jack

A proper football man who brought the game into Irish hearts: Jack Charlton (1935-2020)

Charlton led the Irish football team for a decade.

FORMER REPUBLIC OF Ireland football manager and World Cup winning player Jack Charlton has died at the age of 85.

Charlton led the Irish team for a decade that saw the country qualify for its first three international tournaments, including two World Cups in Italy and the USA.

The first tournament in which he managed Ireland saw the country beat his home nation of England in a much fabled victory in Stuttgart in Euro ’88.

His time with Ireland undoubtedly forged a closer relationship between the nation and its football team and Charlton was later given honorary Irish citizenship.

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,” it 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,” Manchester United said.

Our deepest condolences go to all the Charlton family for their immensely sad loss.

Former England footballer and pundit Gary Lineker 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.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “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.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said on RTÉ Radio One this morning that he was “filled with sadness” at the news, and gave his condolences to Jack Charleton’s family and friends:

“He is Ireland’s most loved Englishman,” he said, adding that Italia ’90 lifted Ireland at a time “when Ireland didn’t have much to cheer about”.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said: “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.”

Jack Charlton’s granddaughter, ITV reporter Emma Wilkinson said: “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.

His story

Born in the northeastern English town of Ashington near Newcastle, Charlton spent his entire playing career with Leeds United and won the England’s First Division on one occasion.

His international career saw him capped 35 times for England, most memorably during the 1966 World Cup when he played alongside his brother Bobby in a team that lifted the trophy for the only time in the nation’s history.

After retiring from playing football, Charlton managed a number of English clubs before he took his over as Ireland manager in 1986.

Charlton was the first foreign manager to be appointed to the position and the choice was met with some suspicion at the time.

A driven and at times abrasive management style saw Charlton clash with some members of the Irish media but his methods delivered a level of success that had never before been seen in Irish football and hasn’t been seen since.

File photo: Next Wednesday is the 25th Annivesary of the return home to Dublin of the Italia 90 Irish Soccer Team. Charlton speaks to massive crowds at College Green in Dublin after Italia '90. Eamonn Farrell / Photocall Ireland Eamonn Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

If Italia ’90 is seared into Irish consciousness like perhaps no other collective event in recent history, Charlton’s face is at the front and centre of those memories.

Images of Charlton standing at the touchline during Ireland’s penalty shootout against Romania are among the most iconic of that period.

Charlton’s visible disbelief and barely restrained emotion at the crowds that greeted his and the team’s return to Ireland will also live long in the memory.

His job with Ireland was Charlton’s last in football and he returned to Ireland regularly after his retirement, often to partake in his love of freshwater fishing.

During his time with Ireland and in the years since he was both accurately and lovingly referred to as ‘Big Jack’.

Charlton was aged 85 and he is survived by his wife of almost 60 years Pat Kemp and their three children.

- with reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

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