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How Jack Charlton captured hearts on both sides of the Irish sea

Few have won the affection of football fans in quite the same way as Jack Charlton.

A member of England's 1966 World Cup-winning team, long-time Leeds United player and later celebrated Republic of Ireland manager, Charlton was loved by both English and Irish fans.

Following the football legend's death at the age of 85, two Sky News correspondents reflect on how he won the hearts of both nations.

Image: Jack Charlton as Ireland manager

By Enda Brady, news correspondent

They say you should never meet your heroes because you'll only be disappointed.

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I met mine when I was on work experience at my local newspaper in County Wexford in the autumn of 1992 and he changed my life.

Jack Charlton was the most famous man in Ireland, the hero of Italia '90, the manager who masterminded our win against England at Euro '88.

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And I'd found out that he was up the road from my hometown of Enniscorthy fishing in a river.

At 15 years old I was desperate to be a reporter and landing an interview with "Big Jack" was just too crazy a thing to happen for a schoolboy Ireland fan like me, but it did.

Enda Brady interviewed Jack Charlton as a teenager. Pic: Enda Brady
Image: Enda Brady interviewed Jack Charlton as a teenager. Pic: Enda Brady

After much driving around with my father (a local Garda), I found Charlton drinking tea and eating sandwiches in Redmond's pub in the small town of Bunclody.

He gave me an interview, chatted away about our upcoming qualifier against Spain and was an absolute gentleman.

People in Ireland adored him because he gave us belief.

We had had so many talented footballers and missed opportunities over the years, but he crashed into our lives, told us to believe in ourselves and trust him. We gave him our hearts and he gave us the world.

The 85-year-old passed away peacefully at his Northumberland home on Friday, his family said.
'A true great of the game'

The night before the World Cup quarter-final against Italy in Rome in 1990 is my favourite Jack Charlton anecdote.

The players were getting ready for bed when word went round that Charlton had got hold of a keg of Guinness from the Irish embassy and the team would be allowed two pints each.

The Italian police watched in amazement as the Irish partied – 24 hours before the biggest game of their lives. Needless to say, we narrowly lost 1-0.

That was Jack Charlton's style. He enjoyed the craic, even though he was an outsider to begin with.

But in the world of international football, so were we. And he took us on a journey that we will always, always be grateful for.

Members of Ireland's team at the 1990 World Cup quarter-final
Image: Members of Ireland's team at the 1990 World Cup quarter-final

By Nick Powell, sports editor

And then there were four.

Now the only survivors from England's 1966 World Cup winning 11 are Jack Charlton's younger brother Sir Bobby, 82, Sir Geoff Hurst, 78, Roger Hunt, 81, and George Cohen, 80.

Hurst's goalscoring earned the biggest headlines, but as the 1966 final reached the 89th minute, the defence had conceded only two goals all tournament.

Then came West Germany's dramaticRead More – Source