Jack Charlton will undoubtedly be remembered as the greatest Republic of Ireland soccer manager ever. Tributes poured in for the England World Cup winner after his death on July 10 2020. The 85-year-old had been diagnosed with lymphoma in the last year and was also suffering from dementia. Jack Charlton’s Ireland triumphs include reaching the Euro finals in 1988, and the World Cup finals in both 2000 and 2004.
A family statement said: “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”.
Former England striker Gary Lineker wrote on Twitter: “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”.
Former Republic of Ireland forward John Aldridge said: “Absolutely gutted that big Jack has passed away. What a football man, loved and adored, especially in Ireland. The best manager I was lucky to play for. The times we had on and off the pitch were priceless. My thoughts are with Pat and the family. RIP my good friend. Never forgotten”.
Charlton’s granddaughter, 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”.
The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) added: “The FAI is 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. RIP”.
Jack Charlton became Republic of Ireland national team manager in 1986. His triumphs included guiding the Republic to the country’s first major finals, reaching Euro 88. He then led them to the World Cup in Italy in 1990, where his team progressed to the quarter-finals. They were defeated 1-0 by the hosts. After narrowly missing out on qualification for Euro 92, the Republic of Ireland secured a place at the 1994 World Cup in the United States following a tense 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland. His team were knocked out by the Netherlands in the last 16.
Audience with Pope
Before the Republic’s quarter-final against Italy in Rome in 1990, the team were granted an audience with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. Charlton said in an interview: “I thought we’d go into a room, he’d come in and bless the lads and say a few prayers and we’d take some photos. But the audience chamber holds 7,000 and there were people from all over the world there. The Pope was on the third bit of his blessing and he was looking right at me. I thought he was waving at me so I stood up and waved back”.
In recognition of his exploits as Ireland manager, Big Jack was awarded the Freedom of the City of Dublin in 1994. This was the first time the honour had been given to an Englishman since 1854. He was also awarded an OBE in 1974 and given honorary Irish citizenship in 1996.
Irish president Michael D Higgins said: “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”.
Jack’s funeral will take place later today, July 21 2020. The cortege will pass through the streets of his hometown of Ashington, Northumberland. The family has urged fans to maintain social distancing while giving their hero a great send-off. He will be cremated later at a private ceremony in Newcastle.
Jack is survived by his wife Pat, who he married in 1958 and his three children, John, Deborah and Peter. He was also a grandfather and great-grandfather.