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Paul McGrath Says Jack Charlton Gave Him The Best Ten Years Of His Life

Paul McGrath Says Jack Charlton Gave Him The Best Ten Years Of His Life
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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The legendary Jack Charlton would have been 88 this Monday, and it is always worth a trip down memory lane to the wonderful time he spent in charge of the Republic of Ireland national team.

Last year, a special episode of The Late Late Show celebrated the 100th anniversary of the FAI, with special guests such as Shay Given, Vera Pauw, Packie Bonner and the legendary Paul McGrath.

It was McGrath who would give the audience the best moment of the night with his heartfelt tribute to former Ireland manager Jack Charlton.

McGrath played under Englishman Charlton at three major tournaments, with his greatest moment in an Ireland shirt coming in USA '94 in the famous win over Italy.

On the Late Late special last May, McGrath described the oft unseen caring nature of Charlton, and said that the Ireland manager had given him the best decade of his life.

Paul McGrath pays beautiful tribute to Jack Charlton

Jack Charlton won a World Cup as a player for England in 1966, but it is his time in charge of the Boys in Green that he is best remembered for in Ireland. Charlton managed the Irish national team between 1986 and 1996, taking the team to their first ever major championships at Euro 88, before reaching the World Cup quarter finals at Italia 90.

One ever present for Charlton from Euro 88 through USA 94 was Paul McGrath. Playing for Manchester United and Aston Villa during Charlton's reign, McGrath was a pivotal part of the most successful Irish team in history - and he credits much of that to Charlton.



McGrath appeared on last year's Late Late Show Irish football special, where he poignantly praised Charlton for the impact he had had on his career.

McGrath suffered with alcoholism during his career, and he said that Charlton's compassion and understanding was something special about the man.

He knew I was a little bit different, I think, because I'd end up on a train that I wasn't meant to be on - or it could have been a plane. He always forgave me, he always wanted me back on the team.

He'd say, 'you won't be playing the next game, but you will get the next one if you behave!' I always wanted to play, because we had a great rapport with each other. John and Peter [Charlton's sons] used to come with us - not to the discos! - but came with us as part of the team.

We started winning an awful lot of games, and it was brilliant for us. We were allowed to party sometimes - sorry, the others were allowed to party sometimes! We had great fun together. I loved it, for me, it was the best ten years of my life.

Jack was brilliant with the kids, he'd allow you to bring them over and he'd be down on the beach with them messing with them, having the laugh with them, stuff like that. He was brilliant for that as well.

We just loved him because he made it so simple for us to follow what we had to do. A lot of people thought we were just kick-and-rush players - but, to be honest, we knew what we were doing and it brought us to some great places.

Paul McGrath and Jack Charlton truly are two of the most beloved figures in Irish football, so to hear McGrath speaking in such glowing terms about his former manager was a beautiful moment.

Charlton sadly passed away in the summer of 2020 after a battle with dementia. On the Late Late Show special, McGrath also presented Charlton's son John with a book of condolences.



The death of Jack Charlton led to a public outpour of affection and grief from football fans on both sides of the Irish Sea. A poignant montage put together by RTÉ for the show included a brilliant snippet from 1996, where Charlton speaks about his dual identity.

I am now an Irish citizen - not an honorary, I'm an Irish citizen. I've got my passport, I'm a freeman of the city of Dublin, I've got masses and masses of friends in the Republic of Ireland, I love the place to bits. I've got a house over there, I go back and forth whenever I can. I suppose, now, after ten years, I'm as much Irish as I am English.

The impact that Jack Charlton had on football in this country will never be forgotten, and Paul McGrath can count himself among many who were given wonderful memories by the big man.

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