THE TELEVISION broadcast of a documentary chronicling the impact and legacy of the late, great Jack Charlton, has generated a huge response in Ireland.
An England and Leeds legend, Charlton served with distinction as Ireland manager for close to a decade, guiding the national side to a first European Championship appearance, a famous win over England and a World Cup quarter-final.
Filmed over the final year of his life, Gabriel Clarke’s film Finding Jack Charlton chronicled the incredible highs of his tenure in charge of the Ireland team as well as his struggled with dementia in later life.
In one poignant moment captured in the film, Charlton’s wife pat says to him: "They love you don't they, the Irish?" He replies: "I don't know, do they?"
Later Pat admits the difficulties her husband has faced in watching back some of his most memorable achievements with little to no memory of ever being part of them.
"He's got more emotional as he's got older, because he can't do what he wants to do," she admits.
Broadcast in Ireland as part Virgin Media Television’s week-long “Donate for Dementia” campaign, it helped the campaign raise over €620,000 for dementia services across Ireland.
€620,000. Six. Hundred. And. Twenty. Thousand. Euro.
We are all blown away by your generosity this #DonateForDementia Week. We cannot thank you enough. Donation lines are still open. #FindingJackCharlton Text MEMORY to 50300 to donate €4 pic.twitter.com/dOrTYF6y37
— Virgin Media Television (@VirginMedia_TV) March 28, 2021
The film is as much a celebration of Charlton’s achievements with Ireland and how they ultimately transcended sport.
"He gave Ireland a sense of self-confidence they never had before,” Clarke told the Irish Post.
“After Italia ‘90 there was a sense of ‘If we can reach the quarter finals of the World Cup, we can do anything.’”
Fans with fond memories of World Cups and Euros under Big Jack’s stewardship were quick to take to social media to praise the film as a brilliant reminder of his impact.
Trina O’Connor wrote: “I am so glad I watched this beautiful film - it celebrated Jack’s life, showed his dementia journey and told a wonderful story of Jackie’s army, and reminded us of an Ireland of resilience & hope. Well done all involved.”
A masterpiece. I’m after staying up way too late to watch it but I’m so lucky to have lived through that time. He was one in a million and did more for this country than him or his family will ever know. #FindingJackCharlton
— Glen Loughran (@glenio1234) March 29, 2021
Dermot Conaty, concurred: “Finding Jack Charlton, great documentary. Jack, what an amazing charismatic human being, you gave us such great memories, an absolute national treasure, you will never be forgotten.”
Comedian Conor Moore tweeted: “Finding Jack Charlton was one of the most powerful, wonderful documentaries I’ve ever watched! What a great man! What a great era! Too young to remember it but it must of been incredible! He probably did more for Anglo Irish relations than any politician ever”
Another Twitter user, Robbie Kelly, wrote: “Finding Jack Charlton was such a wonderful insight to the big man himself. What a great man and great time for Ireland.”
Feel so sorry for all those who never grew in Jack Charlton's era as manager of Ireland. Italian'90 will forever be in my great memories. True Irish hero Jack. #FindingJackCharlton pic.twitter.com/UMtL7kGa2O
— Brian Sheils (@BrianSheils27) March 28, 2021
Buff Egan tweeted: “Hard not to Love Jack Charlton. A Superb Documentary and a Real Heartbreaking insight in to his Battle with dementia. He and his team's gave this Country some of the Greatest times we ever had. Thanks for everything you did. Never to be Forgotten.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Shane Conlon who wrote: “Finding Jack Charlton. What a brilliant documentary. Well done to all involved. Brought back some fantastic memories.”
Brian Shiels, meanwhile, lamented: “Feel so sorry for all those who never grew in Jack Charlton's era as manager of Ireland. Italian'90 will forever be in my great memories. True Irish hero Jack.”
Tom Kennedy also spoke for many when he Tweeted: “Heartbreaking watching Finding Jack Charlton tonight. To see what dementia did to him and all those marvellous memories that we still have of him but that he couldn’t remember himself.”
Speaking ahead of the broadcast, the CEO for the Alzheimer Society Pat McLoughlin hoped that the “powerful” Finding Jack Charlton documentary would help shine a light on the degenerative illness.
“Jack lived with dementia in the final years of his life and this excellent documentary focuses on his love for his family and those extraordinary years when he brought Ireland to Euro 88 and two World Cups, boosting our national pride beyond comparison,” McLoughlin said.
“There are 64,000 people living with dementia in Ireland and each year there are 11,000 new cases – that means today, tomorrow and the next day 30 people per day will be diagnosed.
“This one-week partnership will raise so much awareness and much-needed funds to support those living with dementia and their carers.”