The nation mourns today with the sad news that Jack Charlton has passed away.
Simply put, Charlton will go down as the greatest manager in the Republic of Ireland national team’s history. Before he arrived, Ireland had experienced a litany of failures on the international stage.
Under his guidance, the team transformed into a formidable side and one of the toughest in the world to break down.
Here are the five most memorable moments from Jack Charlton’s Ireland career.
Qualifying for Euro ’88
Prior to Euro ’88, the Republic of Ireland had failed to qualify for a major tournament since 1930 with a string of bad luck and inconsistent performances hampering Irish sides up until Charlton’s arrival in 1986.
Charlton changed the landscape of Irish football and done it largely by changing the mentality. A year after his arrival, Liam Brady’s goal helped Ireland defeat Brazil 1-0 at Landsdowne Road, however, leading Ireland to a first major finals stands out more.
We may have needed Scotland’s help in getting there but without Jack Charlton who knows if we would have even stood a chance.
Drawing with Northern Ireland to qualify for USA ’94
By the time qualification took place for the FIFA World Cup in 1994, Charlton had transformed Ireland into one of the toughest teams to beat in international football as the side were regularly ranked inside the world’s top 10.
Ireland needed at least a point from their final game with Northern Ireland to secure a plane ticket to the USA, however, the trip to a hostile Windsor Park came at the height of the Troubles and Irish fans were advised not to attend.
Ireland looked set to miss out after Jimmy Quinn volleyed home to put Northern Ireland in front only for Alan McLoughlin to crash in a thunderous half volley to send Ireland to America.
Beating Italy USA ’94
After being dumped out of Italia 90 by a star-studded Italian team. Ireland got their chance at revenge when they were due to face Italy in their first game at USA ’94.
The game took place at the Giants Stadium in New York and is now famous for Ray Houghton’s lobbed goal which gave Ireland a famous 1-0 win.
Despite the game being held in America, it felt like a home game for Ireland with the huge Irish crowd present. The fact that Italy would eventually reach the final only to lose on penalties, it’s a testament to how good Charlton’s teams were.
Beating England at Euro ’88
Qualifying for a first major finals was one thing for the Republic of Ireland, drawing England in the group stages was a whole other ball game. Remember, this was an English side brimming with talent and one of the favourites to take home the trophy.
Much like Italy in 94, the result was a famous 1-0 win for Ireland with Ray Houghton grabbing the all-important goal. Ireland had arrived on the world stage at last.
Also, Mick Byrne’s famous promise to Irish supporters that “we’ll do them for yis today” lives long in the memory. The fact that Jack Charlton was a proud Englishman and a World Cup winner to boot, this victory over his native country ranks very high in his list of achievements with Ireland.
Penalty Shootout Romania Italia ’90
It would take a lot to deny beating England at a major finals as the top spot on this list but it is hard to look beyond Ireland’s qualification for the World Cup quarter-finals at Italia 90 following a gripping penalty shootout with Romania.
Arguably the best moment in Irish sporting history, between Packie Bonner’s save and David O’Leary’s penalty, it is a game that will live long in the minds of Irish fans.
The greatest moment in Irish football and it would not have been possible without the influence of Jack Charlton, thus, his most memorable moment from a decorated Ireland career.