Jack Charlton: The Life of a Legend

The Early Years

Jack Charlton was born into a footballing family on the 8th of May 1935 in Ashington, Northumberland. Jack had 4 uncles who played professional football and his mothers cousin Jackie Milburn played for England so football obviously ran in the family so it wasn’t really a surprise that him and his brother Bobby, arguably Manchester United’s greatest player of all time, got into the beautiful game.

Jack is the oldest of 4 brothers, Bobby, Gordon and Tom. Although the family had a big connection with football Jack’s father Bob was a miner and had no interest in football, but his mother Cissie played football with Jack and his brothers and she even coached the school’s team and she even took Jack and his brothers to watch Ashington and Newcastle United play often. Jack remains a lifelong fan of the Magpies. 

When Jack was 15, he was offered a trial at Leeds United which was the club where his uncle Jim played but he turned it down and he worked with his dad in the mines. Jack eventually found out how tough it was to work deep underground in the mines and left and Jack took another look at the offer from Leeds United and his trial game clashed with his interview with the police. Jack chose to go to his trial game, and it was a success and he joined the staff at Elland Road.

The 1950s

Jack immediately joined Leeds youth team and played in the North Intermediate league before being bumped up to the 3rd team in the physical Yorkshire League at the age of 16 and after impressing there he caught the eye of the clubs management and he was then soon promoted to the reserve team and when he was 17 the first team manager at Leeds, Raich Carter gave him his first senior contract. He made his debut for the first team against Doncaster Rovers on the 25th of April in 1953.

Shortly after his debut for Leeds Jack had to serve 2 years in the National Service with the Household Cavalry and he captained the horse guards to victory in the Cavalry Cup in Hanover and by now his younger brother Bobby was already playing for the Giants Manchester United. Jack only made one appearance for Leeds in the 1954/55 season due to his time in the Cavalry but a year later he earned his place in the squad and helped Leeds finish 2nd in the 2nd division and get promoted to the 1st division now known as the Premier League. 

In the second half of the 1956/57 season Jack was dropped by the Leeds United first team after his bad habit of partying and staying out too late at night which didn’t help him with his football. Jack earned his place back in the side for the 1957/58 season and he was called up for the English Football League 11 to represent a League of Ireland 11. Jack married Pat Kemp in January 1958 and that helped his football career improve as he was out partying less. In 1959 Raich Carter had left the club and Leeds were struggling and ended up getting relegated and Jack began his coaching badges. Jack and Pat were given something to lighten up their spirits as in January 1959 just a year after getting married Jack and Pat had their first child in John.

The 1960s

In the 1960/61 season Leeds barely survived relegation in the Second division and Don Revie was promoted from player to manager and at first he wasn’t really fond of Jack as he played Jack up front but eventually moved him back to centre half at the start of the 1961/62 season as he wasn’t really any good up front. In the midst of Jack struggling with Leeds Pat gave birth to their second child Deborah in 1961. Shortly after Deborah was born Jack was beginning to become frustrated and difficult to manage in the Leeds squad and he was told by Don that he would let him leave the club but he was never put on the transfer list and Bill Shankley Liverpool manager and Matt Busby Manchester United manager were interested in buying Jack but both the deals fell through.

Jack was unhappy but he signed a new contract with Leeds United and promised Don that he would try to be more professional and he surely was as the 1962/63 season was the start of a great new era for Leeds and Jack became the leader at the back beside Norman Hunter in the young team as Don had dropped a bunch of older players and trusted in the youth. The 1962/63 season ended up going quite well for Leeds helped by Jack and new midfield signing Johnny Giles as they ended up finishing 5th in the second division. The 1963/64 season went very well as Leeds ended up winning the second division and producing Leeds legend Billy Bremner.

 Leeds pushed for the title in their first season back in the top flight and they went 25 games unbeaten and they built up a great rivalry with Manchester United and Leeds needed a win on the last day of the season to win the league but they drew 3-3 against Birmingham with Jack scoring the late equaliser but it wasn’t enough as Manchester United took home the title. Leeds also came 2nd in the FA Cup losing to Liverpool. That was the season where Jack and Leeds built up a reputation for dirty play and Jack later admitted in his Autobiography that the way they achieved success made him feel uncomfortable.

On April 1965 nearing his 30th birthday Jack made his debut for England under Alf Ramsey against Scotland in Wembley the game ended 2-2 and Jack assisted his brother Bobby for the first goal of the game. Jack helped England to win the British Home Championship in 1965 and built up the start of a great centre back partnership with Bobby Moore. Jack became a consistent player for England, and he was used quite a lot in the lead up to the World Cup scoring his first goal in a 3-0 win over Finland and scoring again in his next game against Denmark. 

In the 1955/56 season Leeds finished 2nd in the 1st division once again this time behind Liverpool and they reached the semi-finals of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

It came as no surprise when Jack was named in the 1966 England World Cup squad which was being hosted by England. England drew their first game against Uruguay before beating Mexico and France quite comfortably with Jack getting an assist in for Roger Hunt against France. England then went on to beat Argentina in quite an impressive performance from the team and then they faced Portugal and Eusebio in the semi-final and Jack had to mark giant centre-forward José Torres. Unfortunately, Jack gave away a penalty which Eusebio scored but Jack’s brother Bobby scored 2 goals to get England into the World Cup final. England faced West Germany in the final and went 0-1 down early in the first half before scoring 2 but with only a few minutes left in the game Jack gave away a free kick just outside the box for Germany and they equalised through it. Thank god for Jack that Geoff Hurst scored 2 goals in extra time to give England the 4-2 win over the Germans and win their first ever World Cup. Jack made history as he was part of England’s first ever World Cup winning team and only English team to date and he can say that he has a World Cup winners medal which is impressive. Shortly after the World Cup Jack and Pat’s third and final child Peter was born.

The 1966/67 season was an annoying one for Leeds as they finished 4th in the Premier League, they got knocked out in the semi-finals of the FA Cup once again this time for the third year in a row and they made progress in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup as they made the final losing to Dinamo Zagreb. Even though the year was frustrating for the Leeds team Jack was awarded for his outstanding performances throughout the year and he was named the Footballer of the year succeeding his brother Bobby who won the award the previous year, during the ceremony Jack told hilarious stories and won a standing ovation from the crowd. 

Charlton developed a new ploy for the 1967–68 season by standing next to the goalkeeper during corners to prevent him from coming out to collect the ball; this created havoc for opposition defences and is still a frequently used tactic in the modern era. In that season Leeds finished 4th in the league once again but Jack tasted his first bit of top flight success with Leeds as they won the League Cup and they bet Hungarian side Ferencavaros to win the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup for the first time ever.

Jack and Leeds finished the final full season of the 1960s with their first ever 1st division win just losing 2 games in the process. Jack made history once again as he was part of Leeds first ever 1st division winning team.

Leeds opened up the 1969/70 campaign winning the Charity Shield 2-1 over Manchester City.

The 1970s

Leeds were realistic favourites to win the treble in the 1969/70 season but it wasn’t to be as they didn’t win the league or the European Cup nor the FA Cup but they came very close to doing so as they drew 2-2 with Chelsea in the first game with Jack opening the scoring for Leeds but they lost the replay of the final 2-1 unfortunately for Jack.

Jack was named in England’s 1970 World Cup squad, but he only played one game which was against Czechslovakia and it turned out to be Jack’s 35th and final cap for England. Jack only ever lost 2 games for England while playing for them.

Jack cause controversy on a TV show in 1970 as he said he’d once had a little black book of players who he’d intended to hurt or get revenge on. He was tried by the FA but he was not found guilty and he later admitted that he didn’t have a book of names he just had a shortlist of names in his head. Leeds finished the 1970/71 season 2nd behind Arsenal even though Jack scored the winning goal in the final game of the season in a 1-0 win over Arsenal but it wasn’t enough.  The final tally of 64 points was a record high for a second-placed team. Leeds won the final season of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup on the away goals rule but they missed out on winning it permanently after losing the trophy play-off to Barcelona. 

Leeds finished 2nd in the first division for the third year in a row finishing just 2 points behind champions Derby County in the 1971/72 season. However, Jack completed all the Major trophies in English football when Leeds beat Arsenal 1-0 in the FA Cup final.

The 1972/73 season was Jack’s final ever season as a player and he only played 25 games as he picked up an injury in the FA Cup semi-final to Wolves so at the end of the season after winning 5 domestic trophies, 1 international with Leeds and a World Cup with England Jack Charlton announced his retirement as a player after a truly great career as he established himself as one of the best English and World centre-half’s of all time. He played his testimonial against Celtic and was given £28,000 of the £40,000 matchday takings.

Jackie Charlton acknowledges the Leeds supporters after their one nil victory over Arsenal in the F.A. Cup final at Wembley. 6th May 1972.

Management Career


As Jack had completed his coaching badges while at Leeds it was no surprise when he came straight into management after retiring. Jack was offered his first management job by 2nd division club Middlesbrough on his 38th birthday in 1973, he declined to be interviewed for the job and instead he gave the club a list of responsibilities that he was expected to take and if they agreed with that he would have total control of the club. Jack never signed a contract in his managing career after this as he just repeated this process in every managing position he was going for after this.

So, Middlesbrough agreed with Jack and even though the chairman wanted to pay him a lot more Jack took a salary of £10,000 a year. His only stipulations were a gentleman’s agreement that he would not be sacked, assurances that he would have no interference from the board in team affairs, and three days off a week for fishing and shooting as they were and still are some of Jack’s interests. 

In Jack’s first season in charge of Middlesbrough he took advice from Jock Stein Celtic’s manager at the time and the advice seemed to pay off as in his first season as a manager Jack got Boro promoted to the 1st division and they won the league quite comfortably as they gained promotion with 7 games still left to play in the season. The best-known player to date that Jack managed at Middlesbrough was Graeme Souness who went on to do very well in his career with Liverpool and he is now a pundit on Sky Sports.

In 1974 Jack was appointed an OBE which is very impressive. Jack done well with Boro in their first season back in topflight football as they ended up finishing 7th place in the 1st division. 

The 1975/76 season was quite a mixed one for Jack and his team as they finished 13th in the league but they also reached the semi-finals of the league cup and Jack got to taste his second bit of  managerial silverware as well as Boro won the Anglo-Scottish Cup 1-0 over Fulham. Despite the team’s steady progress, the club’s board voted to sack Charlton in July 1976 after becoming increasingly concerned that he was overstepping his authority in negotiating business deals on behalf of the club and choosing the club’s strip. However, the club chairman overruled the decision and Charlton remained in charge.

Middlesbrough finished 13th in the 1976/77 season and Jack left the club at the end of the season as he thought that 4 years was long enough with the same group of players and that he had reached his peak with them. He later regretted his decision to leave as he said if he signed 1 or 2 more of the right players that he could of lead them to a league title. 

Jack applied for the England job after Don Revie left his spot but when he never received a response from the FA he decided that he would never apply for a job ever again and he would just wait for the offers to come in from the clubs.

Sheffield Wednesday

In October 1977 Jack was appointed manager of Sheffield Wednesday who were then bottom of the third division, so he appointed Maurice Setters as his assistant and they finished the 1977/78 season in a safe 14th place mid-table finish. After once again another 14th place finish in the third division in the 1978/79 season Sheffield Wednesday improved an awful lot in the 1979/80 season as they finished 3rd and secured promotion to the second division.

In their first season in the second division Jack and his team finished a comfortable 10th before jumping up to 4th place and just missing out on promotion in the next season so Jack was getting ever so closer to getting back up to the top division. 

The 1982/83 season came around and Jack had his Sheffield Wednesday players looking in the right shape and they looked like they were heading into the first division as they were sitting on top of the table by Christmas time but unfortunately for Jack and his team injuries hit them hard and they ended up falling all the way down to finish in 6th place and they also reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup. At the end of the season Jack had enough and he announced his departure even though the directors wanted him to stay. 

Middlesbrough (2nd spell)

In March of 1984 it was nearing the end of the 1983/84 season and Jack took the Middlesbrough job until the end of the season with no pay for his friend, Mike McCullagh who he was doing a favour for as they were friends. Jack’s aim was to keep Middlesbrough in the second division and from getting relegated as they were in the relegation zone. Jack’s job was done as he kept them in the second division as they finished 17th.

Newcastle United

Charlton was appointed manager of Newcastle United in June 1984 after being persuaded to take the job by Jackie Milburn who was his cousin. Newcastle were in the first division as they had just been promoted from the second division and a legendary player Kevin Keegan had just announced his retirement. Jack’s first and what turned out to be his only season with the Magpies was an okay one as they finished the season in 14th place. Jack resigned in the Summer at the start of the 1985/86 season after fans at St James’ Park started calling for his dismissal after the club failed to secure the signing of Eric Gates, who instead joined Lawrie McMenemy at Sunderland.

The start of a great new era – The Republic of Ireland

In December of 1985 Jack was approached by the FAI and he was asked if he would like to take up the role as manager of the Republic of Ireland senior national team and he accepted and by this point no one knew that this was going to be the start of a great new era of Irish football. The appointment of an English man and even an English World Cup winner was quite controversial at the time with all the history going on between Ireland and England and some fans weren’t as welcoming but most were delighted to see him in the role as he had done well with the squads he had in the past with Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday, and Newcastle United as he had saved or promoted all of those clubs during his time with them so there were loads of positives to take out of Jack coming into coach the side.

Jack’s first couple of games with the Irish squad were played in Reykjavik in Iceland where they competed in The Iceland Triangular Tournament. Jack’s first game in charge of The Boys in Green was against the hosts in Iceland and Jack’s team ran out 1-2 winners thanks to goals from Paul McGrath and Gerard Daly which gave Jack a debut win with the Irish. In their second and final game of the tournament Jack and his team came up against the probable favourites of the tournament in Czechslovakia and the game turned out to be a success for the Irish thanks to a goal in the last couple of minutes from Frank Stapleton to win the Triangular tournament for The Republic of Ireland and Jack. It was a very special moment for The Republic of Ireland as this was their first ever trophy win being known as The Republic of Ireland and it also gave Jack a good name as manager as this was his first ever tournament with The Boys in Green as well.

By this time Jack had implied his tactics into the squad and it was always the same style of play with Jack he would usually play the 4-4-2 formation with the Irish and as opposed to the continental approach of using deep-lying midfielders. Crucially he instructed all members of his team to pressure opposition players and in particular force ball-playing defenders into mistakes. His style of play wasn’t pretty but it worked as they didn’t mess around at the back as you would always see them booting the ball up from the back and it wasn’t quite your idea of entertaining but once again it worked as we will find out later in this article.

Jack’s first major test as manager of The Boys in Green was to try and get them into their first ever major tournament in Euro 88, Germany. By this time The Republic of Ireland had some nice bunch of players coming into the prime of their careers and only making a name for themselves as well as they featured the likes of Paul McGrath (26), Frank Stapleton (29), Mick McCarthy (27), Ray Houghton (24), Ronnie Whelan (24), Packie Bonner (26), Kevin Moran (30), John Aldridge (27), some youngsters breaking into the squad in Tony Cascarino (23) and Niall Quinn (19) and there were also some legends nearing the ends of their careers who only played in the qualifying rounds of the Euros including the likes of Mark Lawrenson (29) and Liam Brady (30).

The European Championship 1988 qualifying group was a tough one for Jack and his team as it featured the likes of, Belgium, Bulgaria, Scotland and Luxembourg. The point system was different back then as a win would get you 2 points with a draw getting you 1 and a lose getting you 0 points the only change is that now a days a win would get you 3 points instead of 2 back then. Ireland started off the group with a 2-2 draw away to Belgium before coming home to Lansdowne road to play Scotland as they played a disappointing stalemate. Jack’s lads badly needed a win in their 3rd game away to Scotland and that’s what they got as a goal from veteran Mark Lawrenson gave The Boys in Green a 1-0 win to secure the 3 points. Ireland then went on to lose 2-1 away against a tough Bulgarian side before coming home to play out yet another stalemate against Belgium. At this point in the qualifying group it didn’t really look likely for Ireland to qualify as they were sitting in joint 2nd with Bulgaria but it was still possible.

Even back in the day The Republic of Ireland did things the hard way but after some tough performances including back to back victories over Luxembourg to put us in a healthy position in the group before beating Bulgaria quite comfortably with a 2-0 win. We still didn’t do things the easy way as it all came down to the final matchday between Bulgaria and Scotland in Sofia which we needed a really unlikely Scottish win to fire us into our first ever European Championships and major tournament. The odds were against the Scottish and the game must have been very intense to watch from an Irish point of view but with 4 minutes left Mackay won the game for Scotland which probably caused huge scenes in Ireland as Jack had just qualified us for our first ever major tournament and the Irish were off to Stuttgart.

Euro ’88 

This was massive as at the time The Republic of Ireland never qualified for anything in football and it was much harder back then as there were only 8 slots to fill in the final tournament and we had filled one of them so there was loads of respect for Jack. Nearly the whole country followed The Boys In Green when they had qualified and loads of people travelled over to watch them and some couldn’t even afford the trip so some of the fans were sleeping in ditches or anywhere they could find it was mad that just shows the commitment and support of the best fans in the world and it also shows what an effect Jack and his players had on our country as a whole it gave the people of Ireland something to cheer and be happy about as the 80s were tough times financially and mentally.

When it was announced that The Boys In Green had been drawn in a group against The Soviet Union, Netherlands and England the hype was real as we were going to have a controversial first game which was against our neighbor’s England and given all the history and Jack being English it was going to be a good and well fought game. The minute the game against England started you could feel the Irish fans were behind their team and they had barely anytime to look around and take everything in as with just 6 minutes in Ray Houghton found the ball and smashed it into the English net to put us 1-0 up what a screamer it was and it turned out to be the only goal of the game and give Jack and The Irish a very famous win over the English and it still goes down as one of our best victories of all time.

Jack and his boy’s next game was against a very tough and known as one of the World’s best team in Soviet Union. The game was an impressive one from Ireland as the fans could not believe themselves when Ronnie Whelan found the back of The Soviet Union’s net in the 36th minute it was unbelievable. Jack’s team nearly held on for a fantastic victory but an impressive Soviet side equalized with nearly just 10 minutes left to play to devastate the Irish, but we would have taken that result from the start.

Jack had been impressed with his boys so far but in their final game they had to face the fantastic, World class Netherlands side who were probably the best team in their group. Ireland needed just a draw to reach the Semi-Finals of the European Championships and they were holding on by the skin of their teeth and they nearly pulled off a 0-0 draw which would have been enough for Jack and the boys but it wasn’t meant to be as The Netherlands broke the deadlock in the 82nd minute when Kieft unfortunately slid the ball past Packie Bonner to fire The Netherlands into the Semi-Finals and knock Jack and The Boys In Green out of the Euros. Even though we had, managed to get past the group stages we had done very well with a win and a draw in the group of death and in our first ever major tournament as the other teams would have already been much more used to competitions like that so the whole country of Ireland was proud of what Jack and his boys had achieved and even though we were so close to making it into the Semi-Finals it still went down as a success as it was and what Jack had done with us was incredible as he and the players had the start of an experience of a life time and he and the players gave the fans an experience of a lifetime, but what they didn’t know at the time was that there was much more great experiences to come in the next decade.

World Cup 90 Qualifying 

World Cup 90 qualifying started in September of 1988 only a couple of months after Jack and The Boys in Green’s successful enough European Championships. Ireland must have been booming with confidence even though they were drawn in a tough group featuring the likes of, Northern Ireland, Spain, Hungary and Malta because Jack had his boys playing the best football of their lives and at the time they were the best Republic of Ireland side they had ever had so they had a lot to be confident about.

Like their start to the Euro 88 qualifying campaign Jack’s boys had a rocky start to qualifying as they started with an unsatisfying 0-0 stalemate away to our neighbors in Northern Ireland before being outclassed 2-0 away to a talented Spanish side. Hungary then welcomed Ireland to Budapest for their third game in a row away from home and that one didn’t quite match Jack’s plans either as it ended in another stalemate for The Boys In Green.

They knew their first ever World Cup qualification was still in site but they needed to try and nearly repeat their Euro qualifying campaign as if they wanted a chance at qualifying they needed to win all the rest of their games. Jack really had his team organized because in the next game they beat Spain in their first home game 1-0 thanks to an own goal from a Spanish player then Ray Houghton and Kevin Moran scored the 2 goals of the next game at home to Malta. Ireland were on a roll and they kept that roll going as they beat Hungary 2-0 at home thanks to goals from Paul McGrath and Kevin Moran. Jack and his boys were nearly there they just needed to defeat Northern Ireland at home which they did 3-0 thanks to goals from Whelan, Cascarino and Houghton. It all came down to their final game against Malta and Jack’s team just needed to keep their roll of wins going for 1 more game in Valletta. There was never any doubts about Ireland winning and after a team effort John Aldridge scored 2 goals to secure a 0-2 win over Malta and make history for Jack and The Republic of Ireland as Jack had just managed The Republic of Ireland to their first ever World Cup qualification and the people of Ireland were in for a hell of a Summer.

11 October 1989; Captains (left) John McClelland, Northern Ireland shakes hands with Kevin Moran, Republic of Ireland berfore the game. Northern Ireland v Republic of Ireland, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Soccer. Picture credit; Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

World Cup Italia 90

The people of The Republic of Ireland were excited to see their national football team competing in a FIFA World Cup tournament for the very first time and Jack was a very popular man among the Irish people as he had coached them to their first ever 2 major tournaments.

Once again Jack had to face his home country, England in their first game of a tournament. The game took place in Stadio Sant’Ellia in Cagliari and it didn’t take long for the English squad who were full of well known and world class players to open the scoring which they did in the 9th minute thanks to Gary Lineker. The goal was very unlucky for Jack’s team but England did dominate most of the game and Jack’s different style of play wasn’t pretty but it was stopping the English and it all payed off in the 73rd minute when an unlikely goal cam out of nowhere when Kevin Sheedy surprised everyone with a great finish. The game ended 1-1 but it was satisfying enough for Ireland. The next game for Jack and his boys was against Egypt and it was probably the worst game of Ireland’s campaign as they played very poorly in a stalemate 0-0 game, Jack’s team knew they had to up their game in the next match against Netherlands who had already broken Irish hearts 2 years previous in the European Championships. The Republic of Ireland needed at least a point against Ruud Gullit’s side to secure a place in the Round of 16 in the World Cup. The player to watch was Ruud Gullit who opened the scoring for the Dutch in the 11th minute but there was still 79 minutes to play for Jack’s team and a goal was all they needed to get through so whatever Jack said at half time must have inspired and influenced his lads to go on and score a goal as Niall Quinn the young sensation at the time made every Irish person around the World jump up in celebration when he got the crucial goal that they needed in the 71st minute and the team held on for the rest of the game to secure themselves a spot in the World Cup round of 16 where they travelled to the Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris to take on Gheorghe Hagi and the Romanians. The game was well fought by both sides but nothing could separate the two sides after 120 minutes of play including extra time, so the game was all down to a penalty shootout. Jack and his players had gotten this far and they weren’t ready to go home and after a fantastic save from Packie Bonner it was all down to the Arsenal man in David O’Leary who took the decisive spot kick it was all don to him whether we would be getting into the Quarter finals. They nation held its breath as David took his run up but there was never any doubt about it the penalty went in and Jack had just got The Republic of Ireland to the last 8 in the World. The Boys in Green were in for a big test indeed as they took on the hosts on their home soil in the capital in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Jack had a strategy and it seemed to work as his lads played very well but they were just outclassed in a very good game against a very good Italian side when Totó Schillacci put the ball past Packie Bonner in the 38th minute and Ireland couldn’t find a way back but they had done their best and the whole entire country of Ireland was proud of Jack and his Boys in Green who entertained everyone back home in Ireland and gave them something to be happy about and follow. This still goes down today as The Republic of Ireland national team’s best ever major tournament campaign so far and all the players and coaching team especially Jack went down as legends after World Cup 90 and they still all are and always will be.

Euro ’92 Qualifying

Everyone believed that Jack could coach The Boys in Green to back to back European Championships and it looked very likely but only 1 team would be able to qualify out of a group featuring, The Republic of Ireland, our neighbours England, Poland and Turkey. It was a tough but beatable group and it all seemed to be going very well for Jack and his Boys in Green as they got some great results including a 5-0 opening win over Turkey in Lansdowne Road which was  very good and then they drew 1-1 in back to back games against England which were better than losses but their next two games were disappointing as they drew 0-0 at home against Poland before travelling out to Poland and being 2-3 up with 5 minutes to go but a Polish goal in the 86th minute would draw the game 3-3 and prove to be crucial to The Republic of Ireland as that goal unfortunately meant that they needed to win their next game away to Turkey which they did but the Poland v England game didn’t quite go to plan for The Republic of Ireland as Gary Lineker equalised in the last 13 minutes to deny Ireland a place in the Euros but looking back at that game any result wouldn’t be enough for Jack’s lads to qualify so the last few minutes equaliser from Poland in their 3-3 draw denied The Republic of Ireland a place in The European Championships in 1992. 

World Cup ’94 USA

Even though The Republic of Ireland failed to qualify for Euro 92 it didn’t put them down for too long as Jack wouldn’t let that happen and The Boys in Green came back with a bang as they came 2nd in their World Cup qualifying group featuring Northern Ireland, Latvia, Albania, Denmark, Spain and Lithuania which meant Jack had coached his team to back to back World Cup’s as they secured automatic qualification after some great result’s but qualification came down to their last group game against Northern Ireland and The Boys in Green needed at least a draw away in Windsor Park and a Danish defeat to Spain. Northern Ireland dominated the game and they got their reward in the 74th minute but no matter how bad The Republic played or how much Northern Ireland wanted to deny The Republic a World Cup place on home soil they couldn’t defeat them as Alan McLoughlin became a hero to the nation of The Republic of Ireland when he scored the equaliser and crucial World Cup qualifying goal for The Republic of Ireland in the 78th minute and Jack and The Boys in Green were all set for World Cup 94 in the USA.

By now The Republic of Ireland were a more experienced side but they were drawn into a very tough and World class group featuring old friends from Italia 90 in Italy, Mexico, and Norway.

The first game will always be remembered because of that fantastic Ray Houghton goal which secured us a historic 0-1 opening win over the Italians which gave Jack and his team a huge confidence boost. In the next game Jack’s lads were outclassed by a Mexican side who were more used to the deadly North American Summer heat and a John Aldridge goal was not enough as we ended up being defeated 2-1. The final game which was a 0-0 draw against Norway was enough for The Republic of Ireland to reach The round of 16 of The FIFA World Cup for the second time in a row but history was made in Ireland’s group E as it is the only group ever where all the teams finished on 4 points each but thanks to goal difference The Republic of Ireland were through.

Awaiting The Republic of Ireland in the round of 16 was once again The Netherlands and Jack’s team did all they could but the heat got to them and Irish hearts were once again broken by the Dutch as they were outclassed and defeated to 2-0 thanks to first half goals from Bergkamp and Jonk in Orlando. Ireland were out but that didn’t matter because the whole country were proud and thankful of all the experiences that Jack and the players had given the country.

Euro ’96 Qualifying

After finishing 2nd in a group featuring Portugal, Northern Ireland, Austria, Latvia and Liechtenstein qualifying for the Euros came down to a crunch playoff game against The Netherlands who had already broken Irish hearts twice before. The game took place in a neutral venue in Anfield, Liverpool, England. Despite the efforts from Jack’s Boys in Green they could not get past the Dutch and they were outclassed once again by them thanks to two Patrick Kluivert goals. After this game Jack decided that his time was up and that he felt that he had done all he could with the bunch of players and all the players that started off with him were retiring and growing old so he felt that the time was right to resign.

Republic of Ireland v Holland 13/12/1995Jack Charlton and Maurice Setters say a final farewell to the Irish Fans©INPHO/James Meehan

Recap of Charlton’s time with the Republic of Ireland

The appointment of Jack was probably the best miracle that ever happened to Irish football as during his time in charge he gave Republic of Ireland fans a chance to dream and their dreams came through he guided us to a European Championship and two FIFA World Cup’s reaching the knockout stages both times and getting as far as the quarter finals so we as Irish people owe a lot to Jack and he is literally a legend. In 1996, he was awarded honorary Irish citizenship. The honor amounts to full Irish citizenship; it is the highest honor the Irish state gives and is rarely granted. In 1994, he was made a Freeman of the city of Dublin and was given an honorary doctorate by theUniversity of Limerick.  There is a life-size statue of him at Cork Airport in Ireland, representing him sitting in his fishing gear and displaying a salmon as his hobby is fishing and he loves it and that is what he got up to mostly in his spare time when he could I’m not sure if he still does.

Charlton had an amazing career as a footballer and a manager, he experienced it all from winning the FIFA World Cup then known as The Jules Rimet Trophy, the 1st division, The FA Cup and the Inter Cities Fairs Cup and more as player to winning the 2nd division and Anglo Scottish Cup as a manager as well as managing The Republic of Ireland to Reykjavik Cup glory and getting them into a European Championship and two FIFA World Cups. In 1997, he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Northumberland. Charlton was inducted into the English Hall of Fame in 2005 in recognition of his contribution to the English game. On 4 December 2019, he was made a free man of the City of Leeds.

To conclude everything, Jack Charlton is an absolute legend, he had a great career, he gave the people of The Republic of Ireland something to cheer and be happy about and he is a well known and loved individual, especially by Republic of Ireland citizens, Leeds fans and England fans.


  1. Great article Tiernán, really well researched and considering your age and the fact that you weren’t there during Jack’s career, I really enjoyed reading it. I’m a lot older than you and was at Euro 88, Italia 90, all the qualifying games for 1992, USA 94 and all the qualifying games for Euro 96, including Jack’s last game at Anfield. You really do him and the team justice. Well done and keep supporting Ireland because I think better times lie ahead and you don’t want to miss them!

    • Thank you Brian I really appreciate your feedback thank you for your nice compliments. I like following the team and the history behind it all and how everything lead up to how the team is today. That’s great that your were at all those matches, they must have been really great experiences for you and it must be very interesting and you must have some good stories from over the years from going to the matches. I hope you and your family keeping well and safe, Tiarnán.

    • And hopefully there will be better times but I will always support and believe in them. #coybig🇮🇪☘️

    • And hopefully there will be better times but I will always support and believe in them. #coybig🇮🇪☘️

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