Jack Charlton – Our Tribute

As the news of the passing of one of our greatest sporting heroes begins to sink in, and with our social media feeds flooding with tributes and stories about the great man, we decided to pay our own tributes to the great Jack Charlton. Three of our writers decided to share their favorite memories and views on the individual who will always have a special place in the hearts of Irish football fans!

If one point stands out for the Big Jack years for me would be one of the best individual performances from a player you were ever to see. In front of a full house in Giants Stadium, I remember after Ray Houghton scored his rememberable early goal but what stood out amongst his reign was Paul McGrath. McGrath was a player under normal circumstances would not be on the pitch that day, but Jack Charlton’s person-centred plan and empathy gave Ireland years of witnessing one of our finest sportspeople. His performance in Giants stadium, a defensive masterclass will live long in the memory of Irish sports fans and my most favoured memories of the era were due to Jack’s coaching and compassion that gave McGrath his new lease of life.

-Frank Donnelly

Big Jack eh. The man who did more than make us dream. He gave us hope. He made us believe. From his appointment in 1986  the English World Cup winner guided the Boys in Green on a journey the like that had never been seen on these Isles before. No Irish side had ever made it to a major finals. There were a few near misses, most notably Eoin Hands squad narrowly missing out on qualifying for Spain 82. 

The World Cups of Italia 90 and USA 94 as well as the European finals of 1988 will live long in the memory as the nation went soccer crazy. Special times built on Charlton’s work ethic and famous Battle cry of ‘Put them under pressure’. 

One team that suffered from this mantra was the Brazil team of 1987. Not the most famous Brazilian team but nonetheless, a team sheet that still included the likes of  Müller, Rai, Josimer at right back who was one of their stars at Mexico 86 and the experienced Carlos on goals. It was another Charlton masterclass of hassle and harry as Brazil weren’t given a second to get into their stride. The game was settled by a moment of brilliance on the half hour mark when Liam Brady picked up the ball on the eighteen yard line. His disguised shot fooled everyone in the ground that day. The Brazilian defence were half way towards Ringsend before they released the ball was nestling in the bottom left corner of their goal. It was a huge result for Charlton in the infancy of his reign and gave everyone the confidence to go on and secure Euro 88 qualification later on in the year. And as they say, the rest is history.

-Paul McIntyre

As we all know a Legend left this Planet on Friday Night his name was Jack Charlton, he was an Englishman by birth but he was Irish at Heart. When he came into manage The Republic Of Ireland back in 1986 many Irish people were not happy and seen it as a controversial decision to bring in an Englishman considering all the History between England and Ireland but soon that Englishman would become an Irishman at Heart.

I am 14 going on 15 and I was born in 2005 so Jack’s era ended nearly 10 years before I was born but the Legacy he left and what he did for Irish Football and The people of Ireland still stands strong in Ireland today and he is still talked about as the saviour to Irish Football as he let us Irish people dream, now I wasn’t born then but I know how much it meant to all of us and it means a lot to me as well as everyone else today. He came in and the style of Football may not have been pretty, entertaining, or exciting but he made a good bunch of lads into some of The World’s best players and they made that style of Football exciting to watch as they were getting points and winning games.

Before Jack came in Irish Football was very stale and going through a rough patch, we had good players but it just wouldn’t work and we had never qualified for a major Tournament but when Big Jack came in that all changed he let the players play Football and The people of Ireland to dream. After 10 years in charge of us we weren’t a team who had never qualified for anything we were a team who had played well in The European Championship’s and The World Cup as we reached a still record best Quarter Final’s in our first attempt and The Round Of 16 in 1994. We may not have won a World Cup but after World Cup 90 it certainly felt like it as Hundreths Of Thousands of Irish people welcomed them home, I wonder what the Fans would have been like if we won The Tournament. Jack brought a Country together that didn’t really have anything before he came in, this is how the influence of Jack changed a Nation as a whole and he inspired Irish Football and made some of the best Footballer’s to ever grace this country into who they were in their prime and we wouldn’t be where we are in Irish Football today if it wasn’t for him and we have to thank him for that. Jack saved Irish Football and I wasn’t born then but I still know what Jack’s inspiration and legacy meant and still means today to the people of Ireland, Rest easy big Jack, you will always be remembered, loved and never forgotten. 

-Tiarnán O’Kelly

Charlton will always be remembered for his successes with the Republic of Ireland national team, successes which lifted the spirits of a nation at a time when it was undoubtedly needed. It’s scary to think where Irish football would be now if it hadn’t been for ‘the man who dared us to dream’! We’ll forever be a part of Jackie’s Army. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

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