Tuesday, December 21, 2010

21 December 1995 - England's Honorary Irishman

On 21 December 1995, Jack Charlton resigned as manager of the Republic of Ireland. At the time, he had the highest winning percentage of any non-caretaker manager for the national team.

Charlton had been an outstanding center back for England and Leeds United, the club where he spent his entire career. He retired from playing in 1973, having won a League title, an FA Cup, a League Cup, and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups with Leeds, and the World Cup with England. He moved directly into management, taking over at then-Second Division Middlesbrough in 1973. He guided them to promotion in his first season, earning himself the 1974 English Manager of the Year award in the process.

He left Middlesbrough in 1977 and, after spells at Sheffield Wednesday (1977-83) and Newcastle (1984-85), he took charge of the Republic of Ireland. As the national team's first English manager, his appointment was controversial, but he quickly converted his critics by qualifying for the 1988 European Championships, then taking the team to their first-ever World Cup in 1990. There, they advanced to the quarterfinals before narrowly losing to Italy, 1-0.

Ireland again qualified for the World Cup in 1994, where they beat Italy in the first round before getting knocked out by the Netherlands in the second round. Ireland met Holland again in a playoff for Euro '96, with the Dutch winning again to eliminate the Irish from contention. Charlton resigned soon after, with a record of 47 wins, 30 draws, and only 17 losses. At the time, it was the best winning percentage for any Ireland manager at an even 50%. Since then, only Brian Kerr (2003-05) has done better at 53.13%.

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