A ‘sport­ing icon’ and ‘fa­ther fig­ure’

‘Big Jack’ left ‘legacy of out­stand­ing lead­er­ship’ says Pres­i­dent Hig­gins

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Soccer Death Of Jack Charlton - Ruaidhrí Croke

Cur­rent Repub­lic of Ire­land man­ager Stephen Kenny paid trib­ute to Jack Charl­ton yes­ter­day, say­ing that the late 85-year-old “showed us how a suc­cess­ful Ir­ish foot­ball team can lift and in­spire the na­tion”.

It was a mark of the es­teem in which Charl­ton is held both in Ire­land and in Eng­land that trib­utes flooded in from all sec­tors of so­ci­ety for the man who guided Ire­land to Euro 88 and the 1990 and 1994 World Cups.

Kenny and his coach­ing team are cur­rently pre­par­ing for Ire­land’s Uefa Na­tions League cam­paign which starts in Septem­ber and goal­keep­ing coach Alan Kelly – who won his first cap un­der Charl­ton and was part of the 1994 Worlrd Cup squad – also spoke of the im­pact the for­mer man­ager had.

“When he walked into a room, you waited to see what he was about to say. There was al­ways a nugget in there when he spoke and al­ways some­thing worth lis­ten­ing to, no mat­ter what the sub­ject,” Kelly said.

On Satur­day, for­mer Ire­land de­fender Paul McGrath said the 85-year-old “be­came a fa­ther fig­ure to me”.

McGrath played an in­te­gral role in Ire­land’s three ma­jor tour­na­ments un­der Charl­ton Euro 88 and the 1990 and 1994 World Cups – and his per­for­mance in the 1-0 win over Italy in 1994 is re­garded as one of the great­est any Ir­ish team has ever seen.

“To­day, I am truly heart­bro­ken at Jack’s pass­ing,” McGrath said in a state­ment re­leased through the FAI.

“It is dif­fi­cult for me to ar­tic­u­late what Jack meant to me both on and off the foot­ball field. Through­out his 10 years as man­ager of our in­ter­na­tional team, Jack backed me as a foot­baller and as a per­son – he be­came a fa­ther fig­ure to me.

“He gave me his full sup­port when I needed it most and for which I am for­ever grate­ful. He has been a hugely im­por­tant per­son in my life.

“The Ir­ish peo­ple warmed to him be­cause of his big char­ac­ter and he gave us the be­lief in our­selves to com­pete in the big tour­na­ments. I am very hon­oured to have been a part of Jack’s jour­ney.

“To­day is a sad day for the Ir­ish foot­ball com­mu­nity and we all owe him a huge grat­i­tude for the joy and mem­o­ries he has given us. He is a man I gen­uinely loved. My thoughts to­day are with Pat and the Charl­ton fam­ily. “Thank you Jack – sleep well.”

Trib­utes poured in for the 1966 World Cup win­ner with for­mer Ire­land mid­fielder Ray Houghton say­ing that Charl­ton “changed every­thing about Ir­ish foot­ball”.

Suc­ceed

Mick Mc­Carthy was ap­pointed Ire­land cap­tain by Charl­ton and went on to suc­ceed the for­mer de­fender as man­ager of the na­tional side in 1996.

“It’s a real shock that he’s passed away and I’m very, very sad,” Mc­Carthy said.

“It was the happiest time of my ca­reer, he made it sim­ple for me and I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber him for that. I wasn’t the best player in that team, nowhere near. But he saw some­thing in me and I’ll never for­get him for that.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin de­scribed Charl­ton as an “iconic fig­ure” in both Eng­land and Ire­land while Pres­i­dent Michael D Hig­gins said Charl­ton “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.”

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