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Boss Kenny, coach Kelly praise Big Jack

A silhouette taken of Jack Charlton during the Republic of Ireland’s first ever World Cup tournament, played in Italy in 1990. INPHO/BILL STICKLAND

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny and goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly have added their tributes to Jack Charlton as the nation comes to terms with the death of the 85-year-old former national team boss, officially through the FAI.

Big Jack guided Ireland to a major tournament for the first team when his team qualified for the 1988 European Championships, famously beating England in Stuttgart.

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He also led Ireland to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1990, before they lost out 1-0 to the host nation Italy in Rome, and to the second phase in the 1994 tournament in America.

“It was very sad to hear the news yesterday of Jack’s passing,” Ireland manager Stephen Kenny told FAI.ie. “To qualify for three major tournaments, two World Cups and a European Championship, was an exceptional achievement.

“Those tournaments also showed us how a successful Irish football team can lift and inspire the nation. May he rest in peace.”

Stephen’s goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly won his first Ireland cap under Jack Charlton and was part of the squad at the 1994 World Cup in Orlando and New Jersey.

“Big Jack was a legend on both sides of the Irish Sea, a legend in England for winning the World Cup and a legend in Ireland for what he did for our national team,” said Alan Kelly.

“You just have to look at what he achieved as a player with Leeds United and England and as a manager with Ireland to realize that his legendary tag is fully deserved. He was such a huge character and such a great man.

“When he walked into a room, you waited to see what he was about to say. There was always a nugget in there when he spoke and always something worth listening to, no matter what the subject.

“I can only thank Jack for everything he did for Ireland and for me as a player. It was a pleasure to play for him and to know him and my heart goes out to Pat, John, Deborah and Peter and all the Charlton family.”