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Make the big man Sir Jack Charlton: MP submits motion to have football hero posthumously knighted


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Jun 1994:  Portrait of Eire Manager Jack Charlton during a World Cup match in the USA.  Credit: Simon Bruty/Allsport

Jun 1994: Portrait of Eire Manager Jack Charlton during a World Cup match in the USA. Credit: Simon Bruty/Allsport

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Fred, 10, looks at tributes left for World Cup hero Jack Charlton at Leeds United's Elland Road stadium

Fred, 10, looks at tributes left for World Cup hero Jack Charlton at Leeds United's Elland Road stadium

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Rep of Ireland 5/11/1989 Dave O'Leary and Jack Charlton © INPHO

Rep of Ireland 5/11/1989 Dave O'Leary and Jack Charlton © INPHO

1994 FIFA World Cup, United States of America 1994, Manager Jack Charlton. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

1994 FIFA World Cup, United States of America 1994, Manager Jack Charlton. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

�INPHO/Billy Stickland

Jack Charlton at the opening fly fishing competition at Glenowen Fisheries, Creggan Reservoir May 1992

Jack Charlton at the opening fly fishing competition at Glenowen Fisheries, Creggan Reservoir May 1992

Jack Charlton (right) leaves the funeral of 1966 World Cup winner Ray Wilson at Huddersfield Crematorium.

Jack Charlton (right) leaves the funeral of 1966 World Cup winner Ray Wilson at Huddersfield Crematorium.

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Leeds Utd's Jack Charlton goes through before scoring past Arsenal's Bob Wilson at Elland Road.

Leeds Utd's Jack Charlton goes through before scoring past Arsenal's Bob Wilson at Elland Road.

PA

Jun 1994: Portrait of Eire Manager Jack Charlton during a World Cup match in the USA. Credit: Simon Bruty/Allsport

Calls were growing last night for former Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton to be posthumously knighted.

The football legend, who died on Friday at the age of 85 with his family by his side, had been diagnosed with lymphoma in the last year and was also battling dementia.

Kate Wilkinson, one of his grandchildren, tweeted: "He was kind, playful and genuine. I'll miss him so much.

"I've already seen many lovely messages in his honour. I'll share them with his wife, my grandma Pat, to help her through this difficult time."

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Fred, 10, looks at tributes left for World Cup hero Jack Charlton at Leeds United's Elland Road stadium

Fred, 10, looks at tributes left for World Cup hero Jack Charlton at Leeds United's Elland Road stadium

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Fred, 10, looks at tributes left for World Cup hero Jack Charlton at Leeds United's Elland Road stadium

The former defender, who won the World Cup with England in 1966, spent his entire 21-year playing career at Leeds, making a joint club record 773 appearances before retiring as a player in 1973 and going on to enjoy a successful and colourful career as a manager.

One of the game's most popular and larger-than-life characters, he had spells in charge of Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and the Republic, who he guided to their first major finals at Euro 88 and two years later led them to their first World Cup finals at Italia 90.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said Charlton personified "a golden era in Irish football".

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

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Rep of Ireland 5/11/1989 Dave O'Leary and Jack Charlton © INPHO

Rep of Ireland 5/11/1989 Dave O'Leary and Jack Charlton © INPHO

Rep of Ireland 5/11/1989 Dave O'Leary and Jack Charlton © INPHO

"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."

Ian Lavery, Labour MP for Big Jack's home constituency of Wansbeck in Northumberland, has submitted an early day motion calling on the British Government to award the "legend" a posthumous knighthood.

"We'll be launching a petition very soon," he added.

While Jack's younger brother Sir Bobby was among a number of England stars to receive knighthoods in the years after they lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy, Jack was not.

Ex-Liverpool and Republic of Ireland midfielder Ray Houghton said his former boss should have been knighted after helping England win the 1966 World Cup.

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Jack Charlton at the opening fly fishing competition at Glenowen Fisheries, Creggan Reservoir May 1992

Jack Charlton at the opening fly fishing competition at Glenowen Fisheries, Creggan Reservoir May 1992

Jack Charlton at the opening fly fishing competition at Glenowen Fisheries, Creggan Reservoir May 1992

He said of Charlton, who handed him his international debut in his first match in charge of Ireland against Wales in March 1986: "He was a larger-than-life character. The word 'legend' is used too much in football, but not for Jack. What he did domestically with Leeds and winning the World Cup... he should have been knighted for (it). I've never understood that. I think that's an absolute disgrace. Then there's the fact that he did so well with Ireland. His legacy within Ireland is absolutely huge."

Mick McCarthy was appointed Republic captain by Charlton and went on to succeed the former defender as manager of the side in 1996.

"I loved the bones of the man. Jack's passing will touch Ireland, England and the world, but the loss will be felt in Ireland more than anywhere else," he said.

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1994 FIFA World Cup, United States of America 1994, Manager Jack Charlton. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

1994 FIFA World Cup, United States of America 1994, Manager Jack Charlton. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

�INPHO/Billy Stickland

1994 FIFA World Cup, United States of America 1994, Manager Jack Charlton. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

"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."

Andy Townsend, Ireland's captain at the 1994 World Cup, described Jack as a "very special man".

"He was larger than life. He was unique and it was an honour and a privilege to play for him, work for him, laugh with him and share a pint with him," Townsend said.

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Jack Charlton (right) leaves the funeral of 1966 World Cup winner Ray Wilson at Huddersfield Crematorium.

Jack Charlton (right) leaves the funeral of 1966 World Cup winner Ray Wilson at Huddersfield Crematorium.

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Jack Charlton (right) leaves the funeral of 1966 World Cup winner Ray Wilson at Huddersfield Crematorium.

"To have experienced some of the things we all went through as a group with Ireland in the late 80s and 90s was just incredible.

"He was an Englishman becoming the Irish national team manager at a time when it wasn't always easy politically and for various other reasons, but as Jack always did he breezed into it and took it by the scruff of the neck."

Niall Quinn, another veteran of that World Cup adventure, added: "Jack Charlton led the band. He brought us, as 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."

Paul McGrath added on Twitter: "Absolutely gutted. Father figure to me for 10 years.

"Thanks for having faith in me. Sleep well Jack, love ya."

The Football Association of Ireland also expressed sadness at the death, describing Jack as "the manager who changed Irish football for ever".

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Leeds Utd's Jack Charlton goes through before scoring past Arsenal's Bob Wilson at Elland Road.

Leeds Utd's Jack Charlton goes through before scoring past Arsenal's Bob Wilson at Elland Road.

PA

Leeds Utd's Jack Charlton goes through before scoring past Arsenal's Bob Wilson at Elland Road.

Ireland's president Michael D Higgins said: "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."

Ireland's record goalscorer Robbie Keane posted on Instagram: "Thank you, Jack. You changed Irish football for the better.

"You gave hope to young kids like myself that it was possible to play in World Cups and that we weren't there to make the numbers up. You will live for ever in our (hearts). We're all part of Jackie's army. Sleep well."

Sinn Fein president Mary-Lou McDonald described Charlton as "Ireland's most beloved English man" and expressed sorrow over his death.

Belfast Telegraph