England football hero Jack Charlton dies

England football hero Jack Charlton dies

Leeds legend remembered for 1966 World Cup and steering Ireland to new heights

Ireland manager Jack Charlton watches the final minutes of a European Championship qualifying match against Portugal in Lisbon in November 1995. (Reuters Photo)
Ireland manager Jack Charlton watches the final minutes of a European Championship qualifying match against Portugal in Lisbon in November 1995. (Reuters Photo)

LONDON: Jack Charlton, a member of the England 1966 World Cup winning side who went on to become a cult hero as the Republic of Ireland manager, has died aged 85, his family said on Saturday.

Charlton — elder brother of his fellow World Cup winning team-mate Bobby — was also an integral part of the Leeds side that won the 1969 League title and the 1972 FA Cup.

English football’s governing body the Football Association said it was “devastated” by the news.

Geoff Hurst, the hat-trick hero of the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany, saluted his former England teammate.

“Jack was the type of player and person that you need in a team to win a World Cup,” Hurst tweeted.

“He was a great and lovable character and he will be greatly missed. The world of football and the world beyond football has lost one of the greats. RIP old friend.”

The Premier League said players would wear black armbands and hold a minute’s silence before kick-off during this weekend’s games in tribute.

Charlton enjoyed a storied spell as manager of Ireland, guiding them to several major tournaments, including a memorable run to the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals.

Such was his achievement with Ireland that he was awarded the Republic’s most distinguished award, honorary Irish citizenship in 1996.

“He was an iconic figure on and off the pitch, in England and Ireland,” Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said.

“He came to personify a golden era in Irish football. The Italia ’90 campaign was more than just a football tournament for us all, it was a time of unbridled joy and celebration throughout the nation.”

Charlton’s family had earlier released a statement announcing his passing.

“Jack died peacefully on Friday, July 10 at the age of 85. He was at home in Northumberland, with his family by his side,” read a family statement.

“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.”

Leeds issued their own tribute to “Big Jack”, whose uncompromising style as a defender epitomised the rugged approach demanded by the club’s legendary former boss Don Revie.

“Leeds United are deeply saddened to learn club legend Jack Charlton passed away last night at the age of 85 following a long-term illness,” read a Leeds statement.

“Charlton made a club record 773 appearances for Leeds United over a 23-year period as a player, becoming one of the all-time great central defenders in the game.”

Brother Bobby’s club Manchester United also paid tribute.

“Our deepest condolences go to all the Charlton family for their immensely sad loss,” United said.

The 35-times capped Charlton managed at club level with Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle.

But it was turning Ireland from also-rans into a respected international side that Charlton will be remembered for.

A famous group stage win over England at Euro 1988 was followed by Charlton leading Ireland to their first World Cup in 1990.

They emerged unbeaten from a group featuring England, Holland and Egypt, beat Romania on penalties in the last 16 and narrowly lost to hosts Italy in the last eight.

Ireland also reached the last 16 in the 1994 World Cup — beating Italy in New York — and the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) said he had “changed Irish football forever”.

Crucially, Charlton secured the likes of Scotland-born Ray Houghton and England-born Andy Townsend and Liverpool great John Aldridge after unearthing some family links to Ireland.

“What a football man, loved and adored, especially in Ireland. The best manager I was lucky to play for,” said Aldridge.

Townsend added: “He was larger than life. He was unique and it was an honour and a privilege to play for him, work for him, laugh with him and share a pint with him.”

Charlton’s captain for much of his reign was Mick McCarthy, who had two spells as Republic manager himself.

“I loved the bones of the man,” McCarthy said. “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.

“We will always have Stuttgart and Genoa and Giants Stadium thanks to Jack. That’s how we will remember him, with a great big smile on his face.”


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