Big Jack at 80
Cathal Dervan pays tribute to the man that changed Irish soccer forever

Jack Charlton, with his brother Bobby, in 1965. They would lead England to World Cup glory a year later. (Photo by Kent Gavin/Keystone/Getty Images)

England play Ireland on June 7 in Dublin a week ahead of the European Championship showdown qualifier against Scotland for Martin O’Neill’s team.

It will be a case of make-or-break for Ireland’s chances of reaching the 2016 finals in France.

Indeed failure will almost certainly cost O’Neill his job.

Who next..?

Those who make such decisions might just hark back to the day when the shock appointment at the time of an Englishman ushered in a new era.

Jack Charlton turned 80 on May 8. Our Great Shot is from April 8th 1965:  Brothers and members of the England football team, Jack Charlton and Bobby Charlton train at Chelsea Football Club’s Stamford Bridge stadium. Big Jack faces the camera and flashes the cheeky grin that would eventually capture the hearts of people on both sides of the Irish Sea.


Below the sports editor of The Irish Sun, Cathal Dervan, pays tribute to Big Jack and how he turned the Republic Ireland into a football force;

“We were going nowhere as a nation and as a football team when we first met Big Jack in late 1985.
By the time he left us a decade later we believed we were world beaters, on and off the pitch.

Jack Charlton didn’t just transform Irish football and give us all a reason to visit Germany, Italy and America; He made us proud to be Irish, convinced us that we could compete on any stage no matter who the opposition.

That is the greatest testament to the Charlton era. Without Jack we’d never have seen the Celtic Tiger.

Without him, we’d have maintained our position in mid-table mediocrity, in football and in life.

Love his football or hate his football, he made it good to be Irish at a time when even we needed convincing.

That’s his lasting legacy.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *