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England World Cup winner Jack Charlton dies at 85

by Ace Damon

Jack Charlton, an uncompromising defender who played alongside his brother, Bobby, on the 1966 FA Cup winning team, before enjoying his coaching success with Ireland, died. He was 85 years old.

Nicknamed “Big Jack” and celebrated for his earthly “beer and cigarettes” image, Charlton was England’s footballer of the year in 1967. He spent his entire club career in Leeds from 1952 to 1973, setting his historic record of 773 appearances. He won all national honors, including the league title in 1969.

Charlton died at home on Friday in his hometown, Northumberland, in northeastern England, surrounded by his family.

“In addition to being friends with many, he was a much-loved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather,” the family said in a statement. “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 completely honest, kind, funny and genuine man, who always had time for people. Your loss will leave a huge hole in all of our lives, but we are grateful for a lifetime of happy memories. “

The England team’s Twitter account said “we are devastated”.

His greatest achievement was with the national team that beat Germany 4-2 after extra time in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley Stadium.

Bobby, his younger brother, played in midfield. Jack celebrated his victory by partying at a random person’s house in North London, ending up sleeping on the floor. This was typical of the man who maintained common contact despite his fame and remained an affable character, in love with the simple pleasures of life.

“I got a ride back the next morning and my mom was playing hell because I hadn’t slept all night,” recalled Charlton. “I said, ‘Mom, we just won the World Cup!'”

Charlton made 35 appearances for England between 1965-70, also playing in the 1968 European Championship and the 1970 World Cup. A very different player from Bobby, who was once the greatest scorer of all time in England and Manchester United, Jack was in his brother’s shadow during his playing career.

It was obvious from an early age that Bobby “would play for England and be a great player,” recalled Jack in an interview with the BBC in 1997. “He was strong, left and right foot, good balance, good skills. He had everything, our son. I was over six feet tall. Leggy. A giraffe, as I ended up being called.

Of all the British World Cup winners in administration, Jack Charlton was easily the most successful. He had short but impressive stints at clubs in northeastern Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle before being hired by Ireland in 1986 as his first foreign coach.

Adopting a direct, physical and attacking style, Charlton took the best advantage of Ireland’s hardworking players and guided them through three major tournaments, including the 1990 World Cup, where the Irish reached the quarterfinals. Ireland also played at Euro 1988 and the 1994 World Cup under Charlton.

“You advance the ball, you compete, you close people, you create enthusiasm, you win balls when you shouldn’t have balls and you commit to the game,” said Charlton of Ireland’s style. “Many experts didn’t like it, but the teams we played against hated it. They never experienced anything like what we were dictating to them … We were no match for anyone in the world. ”

Charlton said his best memory as an Irish coach was to beat Brazil 1-0 in a friendly at Lansdowne Road in 1987. He resigned in 1995 after losing in a Euro 1996 playoff to the Netherlands.

“He changed everything in Irish football because there was a stage where we didn’t qualify for tournaments,” Ray Houghton, a former Irish and Liverpool midfielder, told talkSport radio on Saturday. “Jack came in and changed that mentality, took us to two World Cups and a European Championship. His legacy in Ireland is absolutely enormous. “

He received honorary Irish citizenship a year later. A life-size statue of him was erected at Cork Airport, depicting him using fishing gear and holding a salmon – reminiscent of Charlton’s favorite pastime for fishing.

“I am Irish and English,” said Charlton, who was given freedom from Dublin.

Born on May 8, 1935, in an arid area of ​​northern England, Charlton worked in the mines as a teenager before going to a trial in Leeds. He grew up in a family of football players, Newcastle’s Jackie Milburn’s cousin, while his uncles Jack, George, Jimmy and Stan played professionally. “It left me no choice but to be a football player,” said Charlton.

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