This summer marks twenty years since the Irish national football team qualified for the FIFA World Cup. While our performances at international level are improving, we still have a long way to go before we reach the dizzying heights that we achieved under the stewardship of Jack Charlton.
Charlton, a World Cup winner with England in 1966, was unexpectedly appointed manager of the Irish national team in 1987. What followed was a journey in Irish sport that has not since been replicated. During Charlton’s tenure, Ireland qualified for their first European Championship Finals in 1988, and their first two World Cups – in 1990 and 1994 respectively. Since Charlton’s retirement from the job in December 1996, Ireland have qualified for just one World Cup, in 2002.
Charlton’s near ten years at the helm are littered with golden memories for Irish fans; Ray Houghton’s goal as we beat the English in Stuttgart in 1988, the famous World Cup penalty shootout versus Romania in 1990 which saw the Packie Bonner save and subsequent David O’Leary winning penalty, and Ray Houghton’s spectacular goal versus the Italians in World Cup USA 1994.
In the below podcast documentary, I document Jack Charlton’s time as Irish football manager. Using archive footage from RTÉ Sport and elsewhere (with permission), “Put ‘Em Under Pressure”, The Story of Ireland and ‘Big Jack’ is an audio trip down memory lane to a time where football-fever gripped the nation and Ireland became the 6th best ranked team in the world.
Jack Charlton passed away in July 2020 following a short illness. He had suffered with alzheimer’s disease for the last few years of his life. A BBC and Virgin Media joint documentary about his career and his living with alzheimer’s was released in 2020, the proceeds of which went to the Alzheimer Society of Ireland.