If you are going to follow in one football man’s footsteps, then we reckon Jack Charlton’s path isn’t a bad one to go down and that’s exactly what Mick McCarthy did when he succeeded Big Jack as Ireland manager in February 1996.
Charlton enjoyed a stellar time in charge of The Boys In Green, taking them to the European Championships in 1988 and two World Cups in 1990 and 1994, in what was an unforgettable time in the nation’s history. In 88 and 90 Mick McCarthy’s name featured on Irish teamsheets in both tournaments under Charlton and Big Mick – along with his teammates – felt so indebted to the great man that they would push themselves right to the maximum for him.
Having played under Charlton, McCarthy had plenty of stories to share with Ruby Walsh and Paddy Power on our From The Horse’s Mouth podcast. He had so many tales from his career in fact, that we had to split the podcast into two parts because we felt our listeners should enjoy every second of the fascinating conversation the three shared. We’ll let Mick tell you how he feels about Big Jack in his own words.
“I loved Jack Charlton. He had a real effect on all of us that played in that time. I think he had an effect on the welfare of the country and how people were”, said McCarthy.
From 1988 we suddenly started to believe in ourselves at that European Championship.
“We beat England, and everything was on the rise. Somebody said we were just on a roll with him. He was just brilliant to play for. You knew what he wanted.
“He just said, ‘look, this is how we’re doing it’. If you did it and you did it well, you stayed in the team. If you didn’t do it or almost dissented against him on purpose because you wanted to do it some other way, you just didn’t play.”
Following Ireland’s return from big tournaments, massive homecomings with tens of thousands lining the streets become the norm under Jack Charlton. If was an outpouring of affection for a man that had transformed the fortunes of a once hopeless football nation. But, McCarthy wasn’t afraid to say that the Irish squad felt the same way about their legendary manager.
“Everybody in the squad loved him and they’re quite happy to say it,” Mick explained to Paddy and Ruby.
We loved Big Jack.
“I mean this is from blokes that were going out kicking lumps out of people and we’re supposedly tough guys. Here we are professing our love for a manager that we had. He was incredible.”
“From 1988 onwards was incredible, we were just on the crest of a wave with the Pied Piper who was Big Jack. I do remember coming back from the World Cup and we were going down to into Malahide and myself and Packie Bonner were walking with Big Jack. There were few young girls coming and they were all sort of giggling away.”
“Packie and I thought they were giggling at us and thought they were going to chat to us. No, they bypassed us and asked Big Jack for his autograph! That was just the way it was”, added Mick.
“He was a star. Honestly, I think everybody would have run through a brick wall for him.”
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