Jack Charlton built a mini pub for the Ireland team, kept his World Cup medal in a tinderbox and it was a ‘disgrace’ he wasn’t knighted

There’s a well-known Irish saying, ‘some man for one man’, and you could say that was Jack Charlton in a nutshell.

Tributes have poured in for the England World Cup winner and former Republic of Ireland manager, who sadly passed away at the age of 85 on Friday.

And one of his old players, Ray Houghton, joined talkSPORT to share some of his best stories about one of football’s great characters.

Jack Charlton was, and still is, a national hero in Ireland due to what he achieved as Republic of Ireland manager

Advertisement

getty

Jack Charlton was, and still is, a national hero in Ireland due to what he achieved as Republic of Ireland manager

Probably best known for being a Three Lions and Leeds United legend, Charlton – or ‘Big Jack’ as he was known by Ireland fans – was also an adopted son of Ireland thanks to his ten-year spell as boss.

“The word ‘legend’ is used too much in football, but not for Jack,” ex-Ireland international Houghton said on Saturday’s Warm-Up, which was dedicated to Charlton.

“For what he did domestically with Leeds, winning the World Cup – which he should have been knighted for, I’ve still never understood that and I think it’s an absolute disgrace – and the fact he did so well with Ireland.

“He changed everything about Irish football.

“There was a stage where we hadn’t qualified for tournaments, we had some great players and good managers but didn’t quite get over the line, but Jack came in and he changed that mentality, got us to two World Cups and one European Championship.

“His legacy in Ireland is absolutely huge.”

Charlton completely changed the fortunes of the Boys in Green, as he guided the nation to their first major finals at Euro 88 and two more in the next decade – including the 1990 World Cup.

Houghton (far right) listens as Charlton instructs his Ireland players during training. Tony Cascarino has said the boss ‘made football fun’

getty

Houghton (far right) listens as Charlton instructs his Ireland players during training. Tony Cascarino has said the boss ‘made football fun’

Italia 90 was a famous adventure for the Irish as they progressed to the quarter-finals, where they were ultimately knocked out by the hosts due to a mistake from goalkeeper Packie Bonner (which the manager never let him forget).

But that didn’t stop the party back home, as the players were welcomed back home with an open-top bus parade just for getting as far as they did.

And the secret to their success wasn’t just their coach’s technical expertise, it was Charlton’s ‘genius’ man-management and gift for knowing how to motivate his players.

And that apparently included building a bar for his players, fully stocked with barrels of Guinness, just to take the edge off ahead of their nerve-wracking clash against the Italians.

“He didn’t treat us like school children,” Houghton added to talkSPORT.

“If you wanted to have a pint at the right time, he’d encourage you to do that and many times he’d even be out with us and take us down the pub! He’d never buy us a drink, though – he was tight!

Tony Cascarino pays tribute to the great Jack Charlton – “He could walk on water in Ireland, and he loved it!

“There’s a great story of when we were about to play Italy at Italia 90, and obviously we were very nervous as it was the quarter final of the World Cup!

“Guinness had just brought in some barrels and they’ve set up this bar for Jack. I’m downstairs and he’s looked at me and said: ‘What do you think? Do you fancy a pint?’

“I said: ‘It looks lovely Jack, but don’t be saying that if you don’t mean it…’

“He said: ‘I’ll tell you what, go tell the rest of the team they can have two pints maximum’.

“Well, you’ve never seen so many people running down the stairs, it was like a herd of elephants!

‘Big Jack’ let his players have a few pints of the black stuff before their crucial World Cup clash

getty

‘Big Jack’ let his players have a few pints of the black stuff before their crucial World Cup clash

Charlton and his Republic of Ireland stars are cheered by fans in Dublin after their run to the last-eight at Italia 90

getty

Charlton and his Republic of Ireland stars are cheered by fans in Dublin after their run to the last-eight at Italia 90

“We’re all running down, all sitting outside, Andy Townsend is playing games and getting Jack to slap the back of his head…

“It was the best fun we’ve ever had and it was typical of Jack. He just knew instinctively what was the right thing to do.

“He knew we were nervous, he knew we hadn’t been in this situation before and he just wanted to calm everyone down. It was pure genius.”

Great for the morale, but probably not the best thing for their performance the next day, as teammate and talkSPORT host Tony Cascarino pointed out…

“He’d let us let our hair down a bit too often if I’m honest,” said the former striker.

“I always said we might have won the World Cup if we didn’t drink as much as Jack allowed us to…”

He was also a very humble man, as both Cascarino and Houghton attested to with their stories about Charlton during their Ireland days, revealing he ‘never spoke’ about the fact he was a World Cup winner.

He even kept his 1966 medal in a small tinderbox, rather than put it on display in his home for all to see.

Jack Charlton was born two years before his young brother Bobby, and both siblings played for England during their 1966 World Cup victory

Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Jack Charlton was born two years before his young brother Bobby, and both siblings played for England during their 1966 World Cup victory

“The was just the way he was,” added Houghton. “He had a great humility about him. He was just a truly a fantastic man, a true gentleman.

“I’ll tell you a true story, I went to interview him up at his house only about four or five years ago, and I hadn’t seen his World Cup winners’ medal before.

“I said to him, ‘have you still got it around?’

“He said, ‘yeah’, and went upstairs… and brought down a little tinderbox, the kind you’d get in a DIY store and probably pay about two quid for.

“I said to him, ‘surely your World Cup winner’s medal, the greatest medal you can achieve, is not in that little box?’

“He went, ‘yeah!’ He opened it up and there it was, the greatest prize of all, in this tiny box.

“But that was Jack – there you go, that’s what it was about: ‘yeah I won that back in 1966 but you know what, it’s just memories’.

“He was just a great, great character.”


Share your story or advertise with us: Whatsapp: +2347068686071, +2348053062268, Email: [email protected]