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Jack Charlton

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 15 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss

World Cup Winner 1966

England Caps : 35

Goals : 6

Player : 1965-1970

Jack Charlton was the taller of the two brothers, who played in and won the 1966 World Cup final. A later developer than Bobby, he’d been picked up by Leeds Untied after a stint as a miner and didn’t make his appearance on the international scene until the age of 29.

Late Debut

Jack Charlton had been the defensive mainstay of a successful Leeds team, under future England manager Don Revie, which had gained promotion to Division One and began to challenge for major honours. Sir Alf Ramsey picked him for the first of his 35 caps for a Home Championship match against Scotland in 1965 and was impressed enough to keep him in the squad for the World Cup that England were to host the following year.

As Ramsey tinkered with various defensive combinations in the run-up to the tournament, Charlton and Bobby Moore were the two defensive players who were always there. Ramsey had some innovative tactical ideas, among them a complicated zonal marking system which was effective but needed intelligent defenders and midfielders to operate it properly. Fortunately there were some excellent choices, with Charlton’s Leeds team-mate Norman Hunter among them.

The World Cup Begins

The group stage started with a lacklustre 0-0 draw with Uruguay which had the British press full of doom and gloom, but comfortable wins against Mexico and France saw England through to a quarter-final against Argentina. In the French match Charlton came close to scoring what would have been his second England goal and first World Cup goal as his header hit the crossbar and Roger Hunt claimed the rebound.

The Argentine match was a dirty affair and marked the start of the footballing rivalry between the two sides which was exacerbated by Maradona’s blatant cheating in the 1986 World Cup. In 1966 it was the sending off of the Argentine captain, Antonio Rattin, for foul language, which started the problems with Rattin having to be taken off the pitch by the FIFA officials. But with Charlton at the centre of a solid defence, one goal from Geoff Hurst was enough.

End of a Record

Portugal, one of the best sides of the tournament, were less aggressive semi-final opponents and if anything had cause to complain about England’s tackling, in particular with regard to Nobby Stiles’ man-marking of Eusebio, Benfica and Portugal’s top striker who’s name in those days was spoken alongside that of Pele. This eventually led to a penalty which he converted in the 82nd minute but by then England were already two goals up. That penalty ended a record run, which still stands for England, of 708 minutes without conceding a goal and seven consecutive clean sheets for Gordon Banks. But Banks was the first to praise the defence that protected him.

The Final

And so to the final with West Germany, of which so much has been said and written. The first goal that England conceded in open play in the 1966 World Cup happened 12 minutes into the game after a mistake by the normally reliable Ray Wilson. The mistake was compounded by Charlton wandering into the six yard box as Haller took aim, something that Gordon Banks hated; it was his domain, and Banks considers that he may otherwise have saved the shot.

Geoff Hurst pulled it level a short while later with a free header from a Bobby Moore free kick and in the second half, Charlton nearly got a chance to atone for his misdemeanour when he and Martin Peters both chased a Hurst cross which had taken a wicked deflection to loop over the penalty area. Peters got there first to make it two-one and then West Germany threw everything into attack. Banks is very complementary about Charlton’s contribution during this period, saying that although they were pushing, he was happy as ‘Big Jack’ was winning most things in the air and stopping the Germans from creating real chances.

Extra Time Looms

But Charlton was harshly adjudged to have committed a foul in the last minute and from a deflected free kick the German full-back put it away. In extra time first the classic ‘was it over the line’ goal then Hurst’s final throw of the dice, the ‘they think it’s all over’ goal made it safe for England.

By playing in the final Jack Charlton set a consistency record of 17 appearances on the trot which still stands today. It was England’s 18th match of the season and their 14th win, two records which also still stand. Charlton had been a key part of the greatest achievement in England’s football history.


Charlton remained in the side and featured in the 1968 European Championships where England lost in the semi-final, but by the 1970 World Cup Everton’s Brian Labone had replaced him in Ramsey’s eyes and Charlton only played in one of the group matches. On the plane on the way back from Mexico he asked Ramsey not to consider him again for international duty, having gained 35 caps, only two of them on the losing side, and scoring 6 goals.

Jack Charlton played on for Leeds until injury forced him out of the game in 1973 when he moved into management. After successful spells at Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday and perhaps less so at Newcastle United, he took over the Republic of Ireland squad. He managed them for ten years, taking them to unprecedented success in international competition in the 80s and 90s but that, as they say, is another story.

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