A STATUE paying tribute to Jack Charlton is to be constructed in the late Republic of Ireland manager’s hometown.
Charlton guided the Ireland football team to qualification for their first European Championship in 1988 as well as a first ever World Cup in 1990.
The team went on to reach the quarter-finals of the latter with a famous victory over Romania and returned for a second successive World Cup four years later at USA ‘94 where they beat eventual finalists Italy.
‘Big Jack’ sadly passed away last year after being diagnosed with lymphoma. His death sparked a flood of tributes from across the football world, most notably in Ireland where Charlton’s achievements remain a source of fond memories to football fans far and wide.
Now a permanent memorial to the former Leeds United stalwart, who won the World Cup with England, is to be constructed in Ashington, where Charlton was born and raised.
Ashington Town Council has officially commissioned a sculptor to create the statue following a successful fundraising campaign - and the image set to inspire the new work has been revealed by town councillor Liam Lavery.
Tens of thousands of pounds has been raised by the residents of the Northumberland town in an effort to honour one of its most famous sons.
Award-winning sculptor Douglas Jennings has been tasked with creating the statue, which will be based on an image of Charlton at Hirst Park, where he learned to play football as a youngster and was first spotted by Leeds United’s scouts.
The statue will likely stand in the park.
Jennings has created a number of footballing statues including George Cohen, Jonny Haynes and former England manager Graham Taylor and he is delighted to have been selected for this project.
Lavery said: “After months of hard work fundraising behind the scenes, I am thrilled that we have reached the requisite amount of over £50,000 for this project to proceed.
“The last year has been so hard for so many people but the amount of support we’ve received from individuals, businesses, community organisations, trade unions, councillors and Ashington Town Council has been incredible.
“Work on the statue should be underway very soon and I am extremely excited for the day when it is officially opened.
“You can see from Douglas’ work that he is exceptional at his job.
“I would like to also thank everyone who submitted their interest in carrying out the work.
“This will be a fitting tribute to a man who is loved to bits in Ashington the UK and across the world.”
Charlton was part of the successful England football team that won the World Cup in 1966 and he then went on to manage Ireland from 1986 to 1996.
In more than 20 years with Leeds United, he made over 700 appearances and won the 1969 league title and the FA Cup in 1972.
He was the elder brother of Manchester United forward Bobby Charlton, who was also a teammate in England's famous World Cup victory.