England

Jack Charlton, an English and Irish hero

Jack Charlton in action in the 1966 FIFA World Cup England Final
© Getty Images
  • Jack Charlton has died at the age of 85
  • The centre-back helped England win the FIFA World Cup
  • He oversaw Republic of Ireland's campaigns at Italy 1990 & USA 1994

Former England international Jack Charlton has died at the age of 85, following a long battle with illness, his family has revealed in a statement. FIFA.com looks back at the career of the tall centre-back, who won 35 caps for his country.

Born on 8 May 1935 in the village of Ashington, Jack had a close relationship with his younger brother Bobby, two years his junior. Hailing from a family of modest means, the two siblings had to share the same bed when they were growing up. When Jack married in 1957, he asked his younger brother to be his best man. “It was not through convention, but because he was my best friend,” Jack later explained.

August 1966. Ashington, Northumberland. England stars, the brothers Bobby, left and Jack Charlton in an open top Rolls Royce as they get a heroes welcome back in the North East after the World Cup success.  
© Getty Images

The brothers were never closer on the pitch than on 30 July 1966, when England won their one and only FIFA World Cup™ title to date on home soil. Jack played every match in that glorious campaign, thwarting opposing forwards at every turn. The central-defensive partnership he formed with captain Bobby Moore was a big reason why England conceded just three goals in the whole competition, two of them coming in the Final.

The Charltons became only the second brothers in history to win the Trophy, after Fritz and Ottmar Walter in 1954. When the final whistle blew, Bobby threw his arms around Jack and whispered, “Nobody can ever take this moment away from us.” Jack made the last of his 35 appearances for England in 1970, having scored six goals for his country.

Jack Charlton and the Three Lions, 1966 World Champions
© Getty Images

There was far more to Jack Charlton the footballer than his England career, however. He was nothing short of a legend at Leeds United, where he spent his entire club career, making 773 appearances between 1952 and 1973, winning the League Cup in 1968, the league championship in 1969 and the FA Cup in 1972.

Jack Charlton wins the England Cup with Leeds
© imago images

Jack moved into coaching after retiring, enjoying spells with Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday before taking on the Republic of Ireland job in 1986. He oversaw the greatest era in the history of the Boys in Green, leading them to their first ever UEFA EURO in 1988 and then to their maiden FIFA World Cup at Italy 1990, where they went all the way to the quarter-finals before being narrowly beaten by the hosts. Charlton took the team back to the big stage at USA 1994 before leaving the football world behind for good.

In 1990 he appeared on the famous BBC radio show Desert Island Discs, choosing Lee Marvin’s Wand’rin' Star as the last of his favourite pieces of music. A legendary figure for England, Leeds United and Republic of Ireland, ‘Big Jack’ will always be a star of football.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino paid tribute to Charlton and his legacy in letters to The Football Association and The Football Association of Ireland.

"A true giant of English football, considered as one of the greatest English central defenders, key player of Leeds United for over two decades, appointed an OBE in 1974, warm-hearted and thoughtful person, his legacy and achievements, and in particular his friendly personality, his loyalty and his human qualities will not be forgotten, and he will be truly missed," wrote Infantino.

"Manager of the Republic of Ireland National Team for a decade, Jack Charlton led one of their most talented generations to their first UEFA European Football Championship in 1988 in West Germany, their maiden FIFA World in 1990 in Italy, reaching the quarter-finals, as well as the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the USA.

"On behalf of the international football community, I wish to extend our deepest sympathy to The Football Association and The Football Association of Ireland, and to Jack's family, his brother Bobby, his friends and loved ones. Our thoughts are with all of you. We hope that these memories and our words of support may help bring some peace and solace at this difficult time."

Jack Charlton, coach of Ireland
© Getty Images

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