Jack Charlton, a soccer World Cup winner with England who became the darling of Ireland after leading their national team to unprecedented success as manager, has died aged 85.
A family statement said that the former Leeds United defender, who helped England beat West Germany to become world champions in 1966, died peacefully on Friday at his home in Northumberland, northern England following a long-term illness.
“We cannot express how proud we are of the extraordinary life he led and the pleasure he brought to so many people in different countries and from all walks of life,” it read.
A man lays flowers on the ground in memory of Jack Charlton at Leeds United Stadium Elland Road, in Leeds, Britain, on July 11, 2020. (Reuters)
Charlton led Ireland to their first major soccer finals at the 1988 European Championship and also guided them to the World Cup quarter-finals in 1990.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin was among the first to tweet his reaction.
“So saddened to hear of the passing of Jack Charlton who brought such honesty and joy to the football world” he said.
“He personified a golden era in Irish football - the Italia 90 campaign being one of pure joy for the nation. He gave us magical memories. Thank you Jack.”
Charlton, the elder brother of Manchester United great Bobby, was a tough tackling center back who graduated from the Leeds academy and spent his entire playing career at the club.
He helped the Yorkshire side win the second division in 1963-64 and then the top-flight title in 1968-69.