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Jackie Charlton OBE

 

John 'Jack' Charlton OBE (born Ashington, Northumberland, May 8th, 1935) was a footballer who spent his whole career in the successful Leeds United side of the 1960s and 1970s and won the World Cup with England. He later became a football manager, enjoying success with the Irish national side.

Despite being born into a footballing family (his uncle was Jackie Milburn), Jack Charlton didn't seem to be cut out to be a footballer in his younger days, overshadowed completely by the skill of his younger brother Bobby, who was taken on by Manchester United while Jack was doing his National Service.

After quitting a job in a coal mine after just one day, Charlton applied to join the police but was then offered a trial by Leeds in 1950 after they'd spotted him playing as a central defender in an amateur match. The trial game clashed with his police interview, and Charlton chose to play in the game. He impressed enough to be offered an apprenticeship and then signed professional terms in 1952.

So began a remarkable one-club career which lasted two decades and, after initial struggles and a flirtation with mediocrity, became one of the most decorated and glittering as football entered the modern era. He played in the Leeds senior team for the first time in April 1953 and within another two years, was a regular fixture.

As Charlton was approaching his 30th birthday and veteran status, he was called up by manager Alf Ramsey to play for England against Scotland at Wembley. The game ended 2-2 and Charlton was impressive enough to keep his place. With England hosting the 1966 World Cup in just over 12 months' time, the incentive to stay in the side was obvious.

Ramsey chopped and changed other areas of his team as the World Cup neared, but Charlton's partnership at the back with captain Bobby Moore remained a constant.

One of many everlasting images from the aftermath of that historic match was the sight of Charlton, at 31 the second oldest member of the team, sinking to his knees with his face in his hands, weeping.

He quit playing at the age of 38 with a barnstorming 773 appearances and 96 goals to his name.

He was quickly offered the job as manager of Middlesbrough and he led them to promotion back to the top flight in his first season by such a considerable margin that he was given the Manager Of The Year award, an honour never before bestowed on a boss from outside the top division.

Later, after taking time out to enjoy his pursuit of field sports - he was devoted to hunting, shooting and fishing - a call came from the FAI to take on the job of managing the Republic of Ireland.

Suddenly the World Cup winner with England found himself plotting their downfall as a manager, and he duly did. Charlton was awared the runner-up prize in the World Soccer Manager of the Year contest at the end of 1988.

After failing to qualify for Euro 96 thanks to a narrow play-off defeat at Anfield against the Dutch, Charlton quit. His involvement in the game since has been restricted (by his own choice) to punditry and speaking.

Charlton is married to Pat. Personal honours awarded to him include the OBE and that of an official Honorary Irishman. In 1994 he was made a Freeman of the city of Dublin.