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Mick McCarthy and Niall Quinn have led Irish football’s tributes to Jack Charlton, the manager whose ‘Put ‘Em under Pressure’ game put Ireland on the world stage with pride and passion and dared a nation to dream.
As Ireland fans awoke to the sad news of Jack’s death at his Newcastle home, his Captain Fantastic Mick and Italia ’90 hero Niall cried a tear or two for the man who changed their lives.
Both were there when Big Jack stunned his native England at Euro ’88, both were on the pitch when Jack led Ireland into the World Cup quarter-final against Italy two years later and both watched from the stands as Jack gained revenge on the Italians at the 1994 World Cup.
“I’m sure I’m not the only Irish person who shed a tear or two this morning,” Niall told FAI.ie. “I’m devastated. I am finding it very hard to put into words what Jack meant to the whole country, not just to me and to those of us lucky enough to have played for him in an Ireland shirt.
“Jack Charlton led the band. He brought us, as a players and fans, to places we never thought possible beforehand and gave us so many precious moments. He changed lives. For his players, he gave us the best days of our lives.
“This news has hit me with a bang. We have so much to be grateful to Jack for and I am truly saddened, like so many others, with this news today. Our thoughts go to Pat and Jack’s family who shared that wonderful journey with us. May he rest in peace.”
Captain when Ireland reached the World Cup quarter-finals at Italia ‘90, Mick McCarthy last spoke to Jack on the day after the great man celebrated his 85th birthday in May.
“I loved the bones of the man, I am devastated with this news and my heart goes out to Pat and the family,” said Mick. “Jack’s passing will touch Ireland, England and the football world but the loss to football will be felt in Ireland more than anywhere else.
“English fans will always remember Jack as one of their World Cup winners in 1966 but what he did with Ireland will, I suspect, mean even more to our fans and the country.
“He turned a really good team into a team that qualified for tournaments and made an impact at them. He changed my life, he changed everything for all of us who played for Ireland and just look at the memories we have.
“We will always have Stuttgart and Genoa and Giants Stadium thanks to Jack. That’s how we will remember him, with a great big smile on his face. I know this is a sad day but we will remember the great days as well.
“I did speak to him very briefly the day after his birthday but it was difficult due to his health. I told him I loved the bones of him that day and I always will.”
FAI President Gerry McAnaney has expressed his sympathies to the Charlton family on behalf of the Association and the Irish football community.
“We all have so many memories of Jack Charlton and all of them positive – he was the man who brought the nation to a standstill as we all held our breath back in 1990,” remembered Gerry.
“I know I speak on behalf of everyone involved in Irish football and everyone in Ireland when I extend our sympathies to Pat and the Charlton family. Thanks to Jack, they are part of our family now as well and we will never forget what he did for our game and our country.
“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. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”