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John Aldridge Reveals Cracking Italia '90 Drinking Session With Jack Charlton And Italian Police

Gavin Cooney
By Gavin Cooney
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There have been political dynasties and vast cultural movements that have furnished fewer stories than Jack Charlton's decade at the helm of Irish football. An Irish sports website could make hay by ranking the best Jack Charlton stories. [Shhhh-Ed].

Although it's 20 years since Jack took charge of his final Irish game at Anfield, the stories keep on coming. You're going to hear a shedload more over the coming weeks, as journalist Colin Young has released a biography of Charlton, entitled Jack Charlton: The Authorised Biography.

The book is being serialised in the Daily Mail, and this morning's offering consists of a number of Charlton's former players reciting their favourite moments under Charlton. They're all fantastic, and can be read here.


The one that stuck out to us above all others, however, was told by John Aldridge.

Two days before the World Cup quarter-final against Italy in 1990, Charlton sensed that the atmosphere was becoming somewhat stifled. Therefore, as Aldridge relays, Charlton assented to allowing the squad have a couple of pints of Guinness a couple of days before the Italian game when the truck delivered to the hotel.

We'll allow Aldo take the story from here, as it ended in a kind of joyous farce:

The Guinness was set up round the pool with all the media people hanging round, plus the Italian police who were guarding us.

The cops couldn't believe that the Ireland players were drinking two days before we were due to play Italy, and that the manager was in the thick of it.

We started playing the penny game, which basically involved putting a penny on your forehead, hitting the back of your own head until the penny falls off.

And being the ultra-competitive person that he is, Jack said he wanted a go. Andy Townsend placed the coin on Jack's forehead — only he took it off at the last second, without telling Jack.

And Jack was winding his arms up like a windmill to hit himself and was belting the back of his own head while the lads, and the Italian cops and the press, were absolutely pissing themselves.

He must have hit himself about 10 times, full pelt as well, and then twigged and tried to grab Andy and clip him round the ear.

Magnificent. We cannot recommend you read the rest of the stories, they're wonderful, and some will rival those already in our rankings already among your idea of the best Jack Charlton stories.


[Daily Mail]

See Also: John Giles's Delightfully Profound Quote Shows How Little He Rates Eric Dier

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