Remembering Jack Charlton
Sir, – Many column inches will be filled – and deservedly so – with tributes to Jack Charlton over the coming week. At the risk of stating the obvious, what he did for this country transcends sport. Looking back at the heady days when the Irish soccer team achieved the success that it did under his stewardship, the atmosphere that pervaded the country during the 1990 World Cup campaign was extraordinary. The follow-up in the US was almost as good.
As a self-avowed rugby fan, I can safely say that no sporting phenomenon ever exercised me to the same degree. The level of excitement that gripped the country was simply unprecedented. While we grapple with Covid-19, Donald Trump and Brexit, the utter innocence and unbridled fun of that time seem very distant.
Quite apart from moulding a team of talented players who could and did perform on the world stage, Jack Charlton achieved something far greater. He reminded us of who we were and who we are.
It is ironic and instructive in equal measure, that, despite the historical antipathy that has existed for centuries between Ireland and the UK, an Englishman became the darling of this nation.
That reflects brilliantly not only on Jack Charlton himself, but also on the rest of us.
The people of this country didn’t hesitate in discarding outdated prejudice in adopting Jack. He will be missed. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Thanks for the unforgettable days and nights in Stuttgart, New York, Genoa, Dublin and so many other footballing arenas; thanks for giving the country a sense of pride that none of our public representatives could offer; and thanks for allowing Robert Emmet’s epitaph be written as Ireland took its footballing place among the nations of the world. – Yours, etc,
TOM McGRATH ,
Sir, – Euro 88 and Italia 90 changed this country both in the sporting arena and in a much wider way. It triggered a release of pent-up emotion and national pride.
He had a wonderful squad of players, but make no mistake, he possessed a serious knowledge of the game.
Not only that, he exuded a unique charisma; a gruff exterior with a no-nonsense manner that was both genuine and endearing.
He was a good man. A decent man. His treatment of Paul McGrath resembled more a concerned parent than a football manager. Lesser men would have cut loose and cast McGrath the wilderness. Big Jack took him fishing instead.
We loved him and he loved us. May he rest in peace. – Yours, etc,