Lady Elsie Robson and Mick McCarthy lead tributes to Big Jack Charlton
PUBLISHED: 18:08 11 July 2020 | UPDATED: 18:27 11 July 2020
Lady Elsie Robson, widow of former Ipswich Town manager Sir Bobby Robson, was among the first to pay tribute to England World Cup hero Jack Charlton who has died at the age of 85.
She was joined by another former Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy, who credited Charlton for changing his life.
Not the most naturally gifted of players, Charlton wrote himself into the history books as a player with England, for whom he earned 35 full caps, when he collected a World Cup winners’ medal alongside his younger and more celebrated brother Bobby as England triumphed over Germany in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley, playing his part in what remains perhaps the most famous day in the nation’s sporting history.
Lady Elsie, the widow of former Ipswich, Barcelona and Newcastle manager Sir Bobby and friend of Charlton, paid tribute to the former defender.
In a statement Lady Elsie 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.”
Charlton made his name as a player at Leeds United after joining the ground staff in 1950.
He went on to make a record 629 league appearances for the Elland Road club before eventually hanging up his boots just weeks before his 38th birthday.
During more than two decades at Leeds, he won the First and Second Division titles, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Inter Cities Fairs Cup twice and was named the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year in 1967.
Following his retirement as a player, Charlton began his career in management starting at Division Two club Middlesbrough in May 1973 where he won promotion at the first attempt. He later managed Sheffield Wednesday, where he spent almost six seasons, and Newcastle.
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But it was on the international stage with the Republic of Ireland that Charlton made his biggest impact as a manager.
Charlton’s love affair with his adopted country and its football fans proved a marriage made in heaven as a nation which came to know him simply as ‘Big Jack’ revelled in the success he brought, the Republic establishing themselves as a force in world football and their manager as a household name all over again.
In almost a decade at the helm, Charlton built a side to be reckoned with and a team which feared no one.
It was at Italia ‘90 that Charlton enjoyed his finest moment as a manager, Ireland eventually bowing out to the hosts in the quarter-finals. They were at it again four years later as Ray Houghton fired them to a glorious 1-0 win over the Italians at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, Charlton’s men making an impression at a second successive finals, although his resignation in December 1995 brought an end to a remarkable era.
Charlton’s captain Mick McCarthy, who himself has had two spells as Ireland manager, added: “I loved the bones of the man, I am devastated with this news and my heart goes out to Pat and the family.
“Jack’s passing will touch Ireland, England and the football world but the loss to football will be felt in Ireland more than anywhere else.
“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.
“He turned a really good team into a team that qualified for tournaments and made an impact at them. He changed my life, he changed everything for all of us who played for Ireland and just look at the memories we have.
“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. I know this is a sad day, but we will remember the great days as well.”
Awarded the OBE in 1974, Charlton was made a freeman of the city of Dublin 20 years later, and the affection in which he was held on both sides of the Irish Sea was reflected in the rapturous reception he received when he was presented to the crowd at the Aviva Stadium ahead of the friendly between Ireland and England in June 2015.
He is survived by wife Pat, whom he married in 1958, and their three children, John, Deborah and Peter.
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