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Jack Charlton, Soccer Hero in England and Ireland, Dies at 85

  • July 11, 2020

As much as his achievements, both as a player and a coach, it was Mr. Charlton’s character — “larger than life,” as Mr. Houghton put it — that endeared him to players and fans alike on both sides of the Irish Sea. Mr. Charlton’s love for the outdoors — hunting, shooting and fishing — never waned, and he encouraged his teams to bond as much as possible, advocating the health benefits of Guinness over beer.

He had an ear for an anecdote and an eye for a one-liner, all delivered in the distinctive Northumberland brogue that he never lost. During the 1990 World Cup, Mr. Charlton had taken his Ireland squad to the Vatican to meet John Paul II. The pope, an amateur goalkeeper in his youth, had struck up a conversation with Ireland’s goalkeeper, Packie Bonner.

When Ireland was eliminated at the quarterfinal stage — by Italy, largely because of a shot spilled by the Irish goalie — Mr. Charlton did his best to console his players in the locker room. He told them that they had exceeded expectations and done their country proud. As they packed their bags, ready to fly home, the mood somber, he turned to his goalkeeper. “And by the way, Packie,” he said, “the pope would have saved that.”

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