The celebrations were more memorable than the matches but Jack Charlton leaves an indelible mark on Irish football
Jack Charlton was to the Republic of Ireland what Pelé was to Brazil. He defined the national team to the world, establishing a style against which all of the country’s sides since have been measured, for better or worse. Charlton, Ireland’s first foreign manager, even helped to alter society.
The beauty of a game depends on the beholder. For nearly 10 years Charlton’s Ireland were hard to watch and harrowing to play against, yet they gave unprecedented joy to millions. He was fortunate that during his reign Ireland had some of the greatest players in their history but it took an exceptional leader to rally them. The manager, a surprising appointment, brought a charisma and a clarity of vision that had been missing.