Ray Houghton brands failure to knight Jack Charlton an ‘absolute disgrace’
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Ray Houghton brands failure to knight Jack Charlton an ‘absolute disgrace’

JACK CHARLTON won the 1966 World Cup with England and earned hero status in Ireland after guiding the national team to qualification for Euro ‘88 and two successive World Cups. 

But one honour the Leeds United legend never received was the honorary title of knighthood from the Queen herself, despite his impressive achievements in the beautiful game. 

For former Republic of Ireland and Liverpool great Ray Houghton, that snub is nothing short of an “absolute disgrace”. 

Charlton passed away, aged 85, this past Friday, leaving behind an unrivalled legacy in the beautiful game among fans both English and Irish. 

Houghton was one of many players to bridge the gap between the two nations. 

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Born in Scotland but largely raised in London, Houghton qualified to play for Ireland through his father, who was born in Buncrana, County Donegal. 

Charlton called the Liverpool midfielder up for his very first game in charge, against Wales in Lansdowne Road back in March 1986. 

It was the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship which culminated in Houghton scoring the winner in a memorable 1-0 victory over Italy at the 1994 World Cup. 

Speaking on talkSPORT in the wake of the news confirming Big Jack’s sad passing, Houghton described Charlton as a “legend”. 

However, he also expressed incredulity at the fact the former Ireland manager had never been knighted, despite several England stars, including his younger brother Bobby, earning the title of Sir for their achievements at the 1966 World Cup.  

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Charlton played in all six of England’s games at the finals, helping the Three Lions keep four clean sheets on their way to lifting the Jules Rimet trophy. 

“He was a larger than life character,” Houghton told talkSPORT. 

“The word legend is used too much in football but not for Jack, for what he’s done domestically with Leeds, winning the World Cup, which he should have been knighted for, I’ve still never understood that, I think that’s an absolute disgrace and the fact that he did so well with Ireland. 

“He changed everything about Irish football because there was a stage where we hadn’t qualified for tournaments, we had some great players and very good managers but didn’t quite get over the line. 

“Jack came in and changed that mentality, got us through two World Cups and one European Championship. His legacy within Ireland is absolutely huge.” 

Houghton was one of several former players to pay their respects to Charlton. 

Mick McCarthy, who replaced Big Jack as manager of the national side in 1996 and played under him, told talkSPORT: “It’s a real shock that he’s passed away and I’m very, very sad."

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“It was the happiest time of my career, he made it simple for me and I’ll always remember him for that,” he said. 

“I wasn’t the best player in that team, nowhere near. But he saw something in me and I’ll never forget him for that.” 

Andy Townsend, who captained Ireland at the 1994 World Cup, meanwhile, described Charlton as a “very special man”. 

Townsend told Sky Sports: “He was an Englishman becoming the Irish national team manager at a time when it wasn’t always easy politically and for various other reasons, but as Jack always did he breezed into it and took it by the scruff of the neck. 

“For that he was a very, very special man and it was a great honour to have worked with him and known him because he was just such a special guy.” 

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