Charlton's Irish legacy beyond huge

Charlton's Irish legacy beyond huge
Big Jack Charlton taking it easy in his Leeds United days.

Jack Charlton, the English World Cup winner who led Ireland to its first dalliance with football's global showpiece, has died. He was 85.

Charlton had been diagnosed with lymphoma in the last year and was also battling dementia.

He spent his entire 21-year playing career at Leeds, making a joint club record 773 appearances, before retiring as a player in 1973 and going on to enjoy a successful and colourful career as a manager. He was granted the freedom of Dublin after leading the Republic to back to back World Cups in Italy in 1990 and the USA in 1994. He also managed Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough and Newcastle.

The Football Association of Ireland tweeted: "The FAI is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jack Charlton, the manager who changed Irish football forever.

[social=twitter]https://twitter.com/FAIreland/status/1281863827433431040[/social

"Our thoughts are with Pat and the family at this sad time. #RIP"

Irish legend Paul McGrath said he was "absolutely gutted" by Jack's passing. 

"He was a father figure to me for 10 years, thanks for having faith in me," he tweeted. "Sleep well Jack, Love ya. Thinking of Pat, John and Peter at this sad time."

Added striker John Aldridge on the same platform: "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 was priceless!"

Former Ireland and Liverpool midfielder Ray Houghton, who was handed his international debut in Jack Charlton's first match in charge of the side in 1986, told talkSPORT: "He was a larger than life character."

"The word legend is used too much in football but not for Jack, for what he's done domestically with Leeds, winning the World Cup, which he should have been knighted for, I've still never understood that, I think that's an absolute disgrace and the fact that he did so well with Ireland.

"He changed everything about Irish football because there was a stage where we hadn't qualified for tournaments, we had some great players and very good managers but didn't quite over the line.

"Jack came in and changed that mentality, got us through two World Cups and one European Championships. His legacy within Ireland is absolutely huge."

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald tweeted that Charlton was "Ireland's most beloved English man".

A family statement read: "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."

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."

Leeds United tweeted that the club was "deeply saddened to learn club legend Jack Charlton passed away last night at the age of 85".

Leeds United Supporters' Trust tweeted: "Another massively sad day for the fans and club as we lose another legend. RIP Big Jack. If there was ever a more prominent year for us to go up it's now, let's do it for Jack, Norman and Trevor."

The English Football League tweeted: "We are saddened to learn of the passing of @LUFC and @England legend Jack Charlton at the age of 85.

"Charlton made a club-record 773 appearances for Leeds United as a player and was a World Cup winner with his country. We will never forget him."

Former England midfielder Peter Reid tweeted: "RIP Jack, great man."

Reid added that he "nearly signed for him" during Charlton's days as Sheffield Wednesday manager.

The England football team tweeted: "We are devastated by the news that Jack Charlton, a member of our World Cup-winning team of 1966, has passed away.

"Our deepest sympathies are with Jack's family, friends and former clubs."

Middlesbrough FC tweeted: "We're deeply saddened to report the passing of Jack Charlton, one of #Boro's greatest ever managers."

Another of Charlton's former clubs, Newcastle United, tweeted: "We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former #NUFC manager and England World Cup winner, Jack Charlton at the age of 85. RIP, Jack. A true legend of the game."

Lady Elsie Robson, the widow of former Ipswich, Barcelona and Newcastle manager Sir Bobby Robson and friend of Charlton, paid tribute to the former defender.

In a statement she said: "Jack was a great friend and a wonderful supporter of our cancer charity. He'd come out to events and meet with fundraisers, and people were always so thrilled to meet a World Cup winner.

"He had such a way about him. He'd just make us all smile. I feel for Pat and the family after their great loss and they have our heartfelt sympathy."

Sheffield Wednesday tweeted: "Everyone at Sheffield Wednesday is saddened to learn of the passing of club legend Jack Charlton. RIP."

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