Paul McGrath leads tributes to Jack Charlton following iconic Ireland manager’s passing aged 85
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Paul McGrath leads tributes to Jack Charlton following iconic Ireland manager’s passing aged 85

IRISH FOOTBALL legend Paul McGrath has led the tributes to Jack Charlton, following the former Republic of Ireland manager’s death, aged 85. 

Charlton passed away in his sleep at his home in Northumberland on Friday, July 10, with his beloved wife Pat Kemp and his family by his side. 

A Leeds United legend and member of England’s 1966 World Cup winning team, to Irish soccer fans Charlton will always be remembered as the man who transformed the fortunes of the Republic’s national team, taking them to their first ever World Cup and a quarter-final appearance, no less. 

McGrath played under Charlton during those glory years and was among the first to pay tribute to “Big Jack” and a man who was so much more than just a manager. 

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Writing on Twitter, the former Manchester United and Aston Villa defender, who played some of his best games under Charlton, said he was “absolutely gutted” to hear the news. 

“Father figure to me for 10 years, thanks for having faith in me. Sleep well Jack, Love ya,” he wrote. 

McGrath’s Ireland teammate John Aldridge echoed those sentiments, describing Charlton as “the best manager I was lucky to play for.” 

“The times we had on and off the pitch was priceless,” he added. 

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“RIP my good friend" 

Fellow international Andy Reid recalled memories of being an eight-year-old during the homecoming of the Ireland team from the 1990 World Cup. 

“Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets,” he said. “Jack Charlton started something that we are all benefiting from! Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.” 

Gary Lineker, meanwhile, remembered the World Cup winner as the “manager of probably the best ever Ireland side and a wonderfully infectious personality to boot.” 

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Micheál Martin led the tributes from the world of politics, recalling how Charlton brought such honesty and joy to the football world.” 

“He personified a golden era in Irish football-the Italia 90 campaign being one of pure joy for the nation,” the Taoiseach said. 

“He gave us magical memories. Thank you Jack.” 

Mary Lou McDonald, meanwhile, described him as “Ireland's most beloved English man.”  

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“He kept 'em all under pressure and kept us all cheering the boys in green on. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.” 

"All of Ireland is sad to hear of the passing of Jack Charlton," Leo Varadkar said. "He lifted the nation and gave us some truly incredible memories through those wonderful summers of 88, 90 and 94."

Simon Harris remembered how “we were all part of Jackie’s army” during those glory years at Euro ‘88, Italia ‘90 and USA ‘94 

“So many of my childhood memories involve his time leading our national team," he said. 

“The excitement and pride he brought us all. We were all part of Jackie’s army! Rest in peace.” 

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For radio host Neil Prendeville, Charlton “defined a generation of Irish soccer” while Sky News’a Enda Brady shared a picture of himself, as a 15-year-old, interviewing the Ireland manager. 

“I don’t have the words to describe just how much Jack Charlton meant to Irish people and how much he did for our country,” he said. 

“He gave us the best of times. Thanks for giving a 15 year old kid on work experience a break." 

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Irish screenwriter Declan Lawn produced one of the most poignant tributes. 

“Jack Charlton didn’t just transform Irish football,” he wrote. 

“He transformed Ireland itself by making an entire generation believe that anything is possible and that it’s OK to dream.” 

One of the most personal messages came from Charlton’s granddaughter, Emma Wilkinson, who also took to social media to say goodbye to her “beloved grandad” 

“He enriched so many lives through football, friendship and family,” she said. 

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“He was a kind, funny and thoroughly genuine man and our family will miss him enormously.” 

R.I.P. Jack. Gone but never forgotten.