There has been an outpouring of emotion both here in Ireland and across the water since the tragic passing of Jack Charlton last weekend.
Charlton had a distinguished playing career as a one-club man with Leeds United before winning the World Cup with England. As a manager, Charlton is best remembered for his decade-long stint with Ireland that saw the national side qualify for three major tournaments; before his arrival they hadn’t qualified for any.
Whilst Charlton was often portrayed as a grumpy character, as the saying goes, he was definitely a players’ manager. Since his passing, many former players have been regaling tales of Charlton and how he dealt with top-level talent both at club level and on the international stage.
Mark Lawrenson was a senior member of the Republic of Ireland squad when Charlton took over and captained the side for his second game in charge.
The former Liverpool centre-half spoke of Charlton’s great sense of humour and his love for being around the players which was why the World Cup winner nearly fined the entire Irish squad in 1986 because they never invited him to the pub.
“He had a great sense of humour and he loved being with the players,” Lawrenson told RTE Radio 1 on Monday.
“I remember, after the second game in charge, I was captain at the time and we arrived in Dublin on the Sunday and all the players check in at the hotel and we used to go to Gibney’s in Malahide. That’s where we met up and had a couple of pints and caught up with everybody and stuff.
“In those days there was no mobile phones or anything like that – came back at a decent hour. At 10 o’clock in the morning, we’re all waiting on the steps of the hotel waiting to go training and Jack came down and said to me, he just pointed me out, and said ‘I need to have a word with you’.
“And I thought ‘crikey, I’m in trouble’…and he said ‘where was everybody last night? I checked in the hotel and there was nobody here’.
“I said ‘Oh Jack, we go to Gibney’s in Malahide and have a few pints’ and he said ‘I’m thinking of fining you all!’
“And I said ‘why is that?’ and he said ‘it’s because you never asked me to come with you!’ And that’s the way that he was – he loved that. He loved being with the players.”
Lawrenson added that Charlton’s arrival proved crucial to turning the Republic of Ireland’s fortunes as he provided the side with organisation which in turn led to them becoming successful.
“He let it be known that we were going to play a certain way – we had really good players but we’d never really been properly organised and that’s what he gave us: organisation.
“And, once we started to learn how he wanted us to play – we were successful and winning games.”