Statue unveiled of legendary Ireland manager Jack Charlton

Statue unveiled of legendary Ireland manager Jack Charlton

A STATUE has been unveiled of legendary Ireland manager Jack Charlton in his home town of Ashington, Northumberland in the north of England.

The statue, created by sculptor Douglas Jennings, has been erected at Hirst Park and looks out over the football fields where Charlton played as a youngster.

It was unveiled by his widow pat and brother Tom on Saturday, just over two years on from his death at the age of 85.

The statue was unveiled by Charlton's widow pat and brother Tom (Image: Northumberland County Council / Twitter)

The statue, organised by Ashington Town Council and supported by Northumberland County Council, depicts Charlton holding a football while wearing his trademark flat cap.

A statue of Charlton was previously on display at Cork Airport, showing the keen fisherman in waders holding a salmon.

Along with brother Bobby, Charlton was part of England's successful 1966 World Cup squad.

A centre-back, he spent his entire club career with Leeds United, winning the league in 1968/69 and the FA Cup in 1971/72.

He moved into management with Middlesbrough, having successful spells with both Boro and later Sheffield Wednesday.

However, after a season at Newcastle, he achieved legendary status in Ireland with the national team.

Ireland success

With Ireland having never qualified for a major tournament, Charlton guided the Boys in Green to Euro 88 in Germany, where they recorded a famous 1-0 win over England.

He led Ireland to their first World Cup finals two years later, where they drew 1-1 with England in the group stages en route to reaching the quarter-finals, where they lost 1-0 to hosts Italy.

They again reached the World Cup at USA 1994, where they exacted revenge on the Italians with a 1-0 group stage win, before exiting at the last 16 stage following a 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands.

Charlton and the Ireland squad return to Dublin to a heroes' welcome after their exploits at Italia '90 (Image: Ray McManus/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Charlton and the team once again returned from the World Cup to a heroes' welcome, with the manager becoming the first Englishman in 40 years to be awarded the Freedom of the City of Dublin.

At the end of the year, Ireland were ranked ninth in the world by FIFA, their highest ever standing.

Charlton resigned shortly after losing a Euro 1996 playoff to the Netherlands in December 1995.

Charlton is applauded by the home fans during a friendly between Ireland and England in Dublin in 2015 (Image: Michael Regan - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

The following year, he was awarded honorary Irish citizenship, a rare accolade bestowed upon those deemed to have rendered an extraordinary service to the nation.

It amounts to full Irish citizenship, giving its holders all the rights and privileges of other Irish citizens.

In 2020, Charlton was posthumously awarded the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad in 2020.

Footballing heritage

The statue is part of Ashington Town Council's Footballing Heritage Project, which aims to bring the town's rich footballing history to life.

As well as Jack and Bobby Charlton, Ashington was also home to their mother's cousin Jackie Milburn, a Newcastle United legend.

Jackie's own cousin Jack Milburn made almost 400 pre-war appearances for Leeds United while fellow Ashington native Jimmy Adamson became a legend with Burnley, helping them win their last top flight title in 1959/60.

Ahead of the unveiling, Cllr Mark Purvis, Chair of Ashington Town Council, said: "The work is exceptional, not only of the statue, but the linked project to celebrate Ashington's Footballing Heritage.

"We are rightly proud of our sporting legacy and thanks to this project, we are sharing the stories, and hopefully inspiring more to come."