Letter to the Editor: Jack Charlton was Ireland’s most loved Englishman

Death of former Republic of Ireland soccer manager who brought joy to the entire country
Letter to the Editor: Jack Charlton was Ireland’s most loved Englishman
Jack Charlton after the Republic of Ireland's defeat to Italy in the World Cup quarter final at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome, on June 30, 1990. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

Last Saturday morning I heard about the death of Barry Collins in Cork Golf Club, and tragic as his death was, it was totally eclipsed by the news of the death of Jack Charlton which I heard on my car radio as I drove to play golf on a sun-drenched morning.

Jack was by far the most loved Englishman that ever stood on Irish soil. As my company, Three Stripe International, was the clothing sponsor to the FAI during the halycon days of the Jack Charlton era I got to know the Northumberland-born man quite well.

My everlasting memory of Jack was in Rome on June 30, 1990, when he was both forlorn and angry after Salvatote (Toto) Schillachi's goal put us out of the 1990 World Cup. 

Jack was angry as he analysed the match and was very critical of the Portuguese referee, Carlos Valente who was penalising Irish tactics of "putting Italy under pressure".

Jack said to me "the damn ref upset our rhythm which cost us the game as Italy was there for the taking". 

With players such as Paulo Maldini, Roberto Baggio and Roberto Donadoni on the Italian team, Jack still rated his team as better and that was the belief that he instilled into his team that brought such joy to our entire country. 

Of course, four years later Jack's team beat the Italians in the Giants Stadium in New Jersey at the 1994 World Cup.

One consolation I had on that night in Rome was that Schillaci's goal saved my company from paying the FAI a very sizeable bonus for not reaching the World Cup semi-final. With all replica shirts sold out I had gained maximum value from the Italia 90 campaign.

May God have mercy on Jack Charlton's soul and may he rest in peace in his heavenly home.

Michael O'Connell

Mansfield House

Passage West

Co Cork

This reader's opinion was originally published in the Irish Examiner on July 13, 2020.

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