Charlton always passionately defended his Ireland players, especially from the English press.
By the time that qualification for USA ’94 rolled around, the players of Ireland and England must have been absolutely sick of the sight of each other. Jack Charlton was probably in agreement.
Ireland v England.
After Ireland’s famous win against England in Euro ’88 and the tense 1-1 draw at Cagliari during Italia ’90, fate proved to be a cruel mistress when both sides were drawn to meet each other again during the qualifying campaign for Euro ’92.
After Ireland opened their campaign with a comfortable 5-0 win over Turkey, Charlton’s side would be disappointed by only managing to secure draws against England.
Jack Charlton, Ireland and qualification for Euro ’92
In Dublin, David Platt’s tap-in at the back post gave the visitors the lead before Tony Cascarino’s looping header gave Ireland a deserved point.
As for the game in Wembley, there’s a strong case to be made that it’s the finest performance of an Ireland team under Jack Charlton’s tenure.
The Boys in Green dominated England and were desperately unfortunate not to win the game. Lee Dixon’s goal took a huge deflection off Steve Staunton and Ray Houghton missed a glorious chance to win the game too.
The Three Lions would qualify for Euro ’92, while Ireland stayed at home. Dropping points at home to Poland and England proved to be fatal.
All things considered, the footballing rivalry between both counties was fierce but in June ’93, both countries had different opponents in mind.
USA ’94: Two very different fates.
After a poor performance at Euro ’92, the pressure was on Graham Taylor to qualify for the World Cup in the USA in 1994 and England’s campaign got off to a shaky start having picked up 12 points from their first seven games.
In comparison, Jack Charlton and Ireland had 18 points on the board from their opening 8 games and crucially, the Boys in Green had already played their two hardest fixtures, away to Denmark and Spain.
With England’s qualification hanging in limbo, Charlton took umbrage at members of their press attacking the members of his squad that were capped because of the ‘granny rule’.
In the book, Jack Charlton’s American World Cup Diary, the Englishman hit back at the ‘Plastic Paddy’ jibes about his players that were frequent during his tenure.
Jack Charlton: “The English are jealous.”
“The Irish public have never had any problems in identifying with lads born outside the country and cheering them on whenever they were the green.
“But I’ll tell you something, certain sections of the media are hung up on the point.
“To them, the ideal team would be one comprised of eleven home-grown players, preferably guys who have played hurling or Gaelic football at school, and then made good in English football.
“Frankly, I get annoyed at all this talk about granny rules and snide remarks about the people calling in boats at Portsmouth and qualifying for Ireland.
“That kind of talk doesn’t wash with me and I have to say that a lot of it originates in England through envy.
“We have built a good strong squad and without putting too fine a point on it, the English are jealous. Hence the derogatory remarks about ancestry and the rest,” said Charlton.
However, Charlton would quickly point the finger at England’s selection policy.
England’s history of ‘dodgy’ players.
Having won the World Cup for his country and worn the England jersey 35 times, Charlton has every right to comment about England’s footballing history. And at the time, he believes that England also benefited from having players with ‘dodgy’ lineage in their squad.
“What they conveniently forget, of course, is that England have more ‘dodgy’ players in their squad than any of the other ‘home’ countries.
“Every member of our squad has direct Irish lineage. Social circumstance and lack of work may have forced their parents to emigrate, but that doesn’t make them any less Irish.
“There may be a whole range of accents to be heard in our dressing room, from Cockney to Scouse to Glaswegian. But don’t try telling the owners that they’re not Irish. I don’t think they’ll like it,” he added.
Even as a proud Englishman, Jack Charlton would always stand up for the Ireland players.