McGrath’s pain at passing of Charlton

PAUL McGrath has spoken about his sadness at the passing of legendary Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton.

The former St Patrick’s Athletic, Manchester United and Aston Villa defender grew to become one of the greatest players to don an Ireland jersey largely because of the backing of Charlton who died at the age of 85.

Paul McGrath and Jack Charlton compressor

Paul McGrath and Jack Charlton

1966 World Cup medal winner, Charlton who had taken charge of Ireland back in 1986, led them to qualification for Euro ’88 as well as successive World Cups in Italia ’90 and USA ’94 in what is widely regarded as the ‘Golden Age’ of Irish international soccer.

Indeed Charlton’s boys made it to the knockout stages of both World Cups, reaching the quarter finals in Italy where they were edged out 1-0 by the tournament hosts.

McGrath, who was a mainstay in the Ireland team at the time, spoke about his pain at hearing of Charlton’s death, saying “I am truly heartbroken at Jack’s passing.

“It is difficult for me to articulate what Jack meant to me both on and off the football field.

“Throughout his ten years as manager of our International team, Jack backed me as a footballer and as a person - he became a father figure to me.

“He gave me his full support when I needed it most and for which I am forever grateful. He has been a hugely important person in my life.

“The Irish people warmed to him because of his big character and he gave us the belief in ourselves to compete in the big tournaments. I am very honoured to have been a part of Jack’s journey.

“Today is a sad day for the Irish football community and we all owe him a huge gratitude for the joy and memories he has given us.

“He is a man I genuinely loved.

“My thoughts today are with Pat and the Charlton family.”

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