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‘Absolute disgrace’ that Jack Charlton wasn’t knighted – Ray Houghton

The former Liverpool and Republic of Ireland midfielder was among those to pay tribute to the manager.

Ray Houghton (file pic).
Ray Houghton (file pic).
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Updated at 15.15

JACK CHARLTON should have been knighted after helping England win the 1966 World Cup, according to former Liverpool and Republic of Ireland midfielder Ray Houghton.

Charlton, who later handed Houghton his international debut in his first match in charge of Ireland against Wales in March 1986, died on Friday aged 85, his family announced in a statement.

As tributes poured in from his former clubs and the Premier League announced black armbands will be worn by players at all matches this weekend, Houghton labelled Charlton a “legend” after winning a clutch of honours with Leeds as a player and helping the Republic qualify for the 1990 and 1994 World Cups and Euro 1988.

But while 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 did not, which left Houghton incredulous.

“He was a larger than life character,” Houghton told talkSPORT.

The word legend is used too much in football but not for Jack, for what he’s done domestically with Leeds, winning the World Cup, which he should have been knighted for, I’ve still never understood that, I think that’s an absolute disgrace and the fact that he did so well with Ireland.

“He changed everything about Irish football because there was a stage where we hadn’t qualified for tournaments, we had some great players and very good managers but didn’t quite get over the line.

“Jack came in and changed that mentality, got us through two World Cups and one European Championship. His legacy within Ireland is absolutely huge.”

Ex-Leeds team-mate Johnny Giles insisted Charlton would make his all-time XI but said the arrival of Don Revie changed everything for the defender at Elland Road.

Giles told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It wasn’t always great times at Leeds for Jack. It was just after Don Revie took over that it became great.

“Up to then Leeds had a few years in the First Division, but they were mostly in the Second Division. Don Revie changed the face of Leeds United and was a huge influence on Jack’s career.

“I believe when Don took over Jack didn’t have a very good reputation in training and he was prepared to let him go if he didn’t buck up and get on with the job.

“Jack then really took off from there as a major centre-half. In my 10 years with Jack, for five of those 10 years he was the best centre-half in what is now the Premier League.”

Andy Townsend, Ireland’s captain at World Cup 1994, described Charlton as a “very special man”.

Townsend told Sky Sports: “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.

“For that he was a very, very special man and it was a great honour to have worked with him and known him because he was just such a special guy.”

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Mark Lawrenson remembered a telling-off he received from Charlton after he scored the winner for the Republic against Scotland in a Euro 1988 qualification match.

“The whistle goes and a minute later Jack comes onto the pitch and he is coming over to me,” Lawrenson told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I am thinking he will give me massive congratulations for scoring the goal to beat Scotland and we are on our way to the Euros, but he gave me the biggest b******ing ever.”

Irish boss Stephen Kenny and former goalkeeper Alan Kelly were also among those paying tribute to Charlton.

“It was very sad to hear the news yesterday of Jack’s passing,” Kenny told FAI.ie. “To qualify for three major tournaments, two World Cups and a European Championship, was an exceptional achievement.

“Those tournaments also showed us how a successful Irish football team can lift and inspire the nation. May he rest in peace.”

Kenny’s goalkeeping coach Kelly won his first Ireland cap under Jack Charlton and was part of the squad at the 1994 World Cup in Orlando and New Jersey.

“Big Jack was a legend on both sides of the Irish Sea, a legend in England for winning the World Cup and a legend in Ireland for what he did for our national team,” said Kelly.

You just have to look at what he achieved as a player with Leeds United and England and as a manager with Ireland to realise that his legendary tag is fully deserved. He was such a huge character and such a great man.

“When he walked into a room, you waited to see what he was about to say. There was always a nugget in there when he spoke and always something worth listening to, no matter what the subject.

“I can only thank Jack for everything he did for Ireland and for me as a player. It was a pleasure to play for him and to know him and my heart goes out to Pat, John, Deborah and Peter and all the Charlton family.”

Meanwhile, the  Football Association of Ireland has opened a Virtual Book of Condolences, which allows Irish supporters to express their sympathies to the family of Charlton.

The Book of Condolences is now live at fai.ie/jack-charlton-rip, and will remain so until 27 July, when the messages will be shared with Charlton’s family.

FAI President Gerry McAnaney added: “The national outpouring of grief since Jack’s death was announced on Saturday morning has been phenomenal and reflective of the esteem in which Jack was held here in Ireland.

“We are offering Ireland fans the opportunity to extend their sympathies to Jack’s family online and to show the family just how much Jack meant to all of us here in Ireland.”

Additional reporting by Paul Fennessy

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