England and Leeds great Jack Charlton passes away

Jack Charlton, the long-serving former Leeds United defender who won the FIFA World Cup with England in 1966 and enjoyed a successful spell as the Republic of Ireland national team manager, has died at the age of 85.

Jack Charlton in action in the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany
Jack Charlton in action in the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany Getty Images

Charlton, the elder brother of another England great, Bobby Charlton, made a club record 773 appearances (96 goals) for Leeds United over a 23-year period as a player, as well as winning 35 caps (six goals) for England between 1965 and 1970, establishing himself as one of the era's finest central defenders.

His long stint with Leeds coincided with the most successful spell in the club's history, while his contribution to England's World Cup triumph on home soil was immense. After his playing days, "Big Jack", as he was affectionately known, enjoyed special success as manager of the Republic of Ireland national team between 1986 and 1995.

England glory

A tough and durable centre-half who was a feared presence in the opposition penalty area at corners and free-kicks, Northumberland-born Charlton won his first England cap at the age of 29, and went on to become a pillar of Sir Alf Ramsay's England team that captured the World Cup in 1966, playing in every match at the finals. His performances helped him win England's Footballer of the Year award in 1967.

English Football Association chairman Greg Clarke paid a warm tribute: "I am deeply saddened to hear of Jack's passing," he said. "A true giant of English football, Jack will forever be remembered for his significant contribution to our World Cup win in 1966, and for being a warm-hearted, thoughtful man.

"I am certain that all football fans, and many more besides, will mourn Jack today," Clarke added. "He left an indelible impression on our national game and was guaranteed an affectionate and warm welcome wherever he went. A huge presence on and off the pitch, Jack will never be forgotten at Wembley."

Leeds stalwart

Charlton joined Leeds United at the age of 15 in 1950. He made his first-team debut in 1953, and would become a cornerstone of the club's ascent to the top of English football in the 1960s and early 1970s.

He helped Leeds win two promotions from the Second Division, and it was after their second promotion into the English top flight in 1964 that the club, shrewdly managed by Don Revie, embarked on an impressive run of success.

 Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton waves to fans at the 1994 World Cup
Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton waves to fans at the 1994 World CupBob Thomas Sports Photography

Charlton was prominent in the side which won the English League Cup in 1968, the domestic title in 1968/69, the FA Cup in 1972 and the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1968 and 1971. His 96 goals for Leeds make him the ninth highest scorer in the club's history.

Managerial success

Following the end of his playing career in 1973, Charlton went into management, taking charge of Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday, Newcastle United and the Republic of Ireland.

His most notable success as a manager came in his long spell with the Republic of Ireland, as he led the team to World Cup final tournaments in 1990 – reaching the quarter-finals – and 1994, as well as the EURO '88 finals, raising the country's footballing profile and earning himself a hero's reputation.

"Jack Charlton, the manager [who] put Ireland on the world stage with pride and passion and dared a nation to dream," said the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) on its website.

"We will never forget what he did for our game and our country," said FAI president Gerry McAnaney. "He transformed our sport. He changed the way we played football, of course, but he also changed the way the country looked at Irish football. He gave Ireland a team to be proud of and the country took him to our hearts in return."