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Jack Charlton personified golden era in Irish football – Taoiseach

The former manager has died at the age of 85.

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Tributes have been paid in Ireland to former national football team manager Jack Charlton (PA)

Tributes have been paid in Ireland to former national football team manager Jack Charlton (PA)

Tributes have been paid in Ireland to former national football team manager Jack Charlton (PA)

Jack Charlton personified a golden era in Irish football, the Taoiseach has said.

It was announced on Saturday that the former Republic of Ireland football manager has died at the age of 85.

He had been diagnosed with lymphoma in the last year and was also battling dementia.

Irish leaders have paid a warm tribute to the impact Charlton had both on and off the pitch.

President Michael D Higgins said the nation had taken him to their hearts as he brought Ireland to “some of our most celebrated moments in sport”.

“He leaves a legacy of outstanding leadership of a group of players of many diverse talents, which he moulded into the successful team that captured the imagination of the nation,” he said.

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Jack Charlton gives a casting demonstration at the opening of The Angling Ireland Show at the National Show centre in Dublin in 2010 (Niall Carson/PA)

Jack Charlton gives a casting demonstration at the opening of The Angling Ireland Show at the National Show centre in Dublin in 2010 (Niall Carson/PA)

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Jack Charlton gives a casting demonstration at the opening of The Angling Ireland Show at the National Show centre in Dublin in 2010 (Niall Carson/PA)

“It was not just the success on the field of play, Jack’s endearing popularity also had much to do with the warmth and personality of the person who quickly became such a legendary sporting icon.

“From a family that loved soccer, he had many connections with Ireland, which he chose for one of his quietest recreations – fishing.

“Sabina and I send our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and his legions of Irish fans.”

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said: “It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Jack Charlton, one of the great characters of the football world. He was an iconic figure on and off the pitch, in England and Ireland.

“He came to personify a golden era in Irish football at a European and world level from the late 1980s onwards.

“The Italia 90 campaign was more than just a football tournament for us all, it was a time of unbridled joy and celebration throughout the nation.

“The great moments of that campaign are embedded in a generation’s memory. It was truly a magical time.

“We thank Jack for his honest, workmanlike and no-nonsense contribution to football and to Irish life.

“I wish to extend my sympathies to his family and friends.”

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) also expressed sadness at his death, describing him as “the manager who changed Irish football forever”.

“Our thoughts are with Pat and the family at this sad time,” the FAI tweeted.

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris described Charlton as a “footballing legend who became such a part of our lives as Ireland manager”.

He also said in a tweet: “So many of my childhood memories involve his time leading our national team. The excitement and pride he brought us all. We were all part of Jackie’s army! Rest in peace.”

Sinn Fein president Mary-Lou McDonald described Charlton as “Ireland’s most-beloved English man”, as she expressed sorrow at his death.

PA