Jack Charlton hailed by his former Republic of Ireland players as he turns 85 – BBC Sport

The England World Cup winner became a hero in Ireland after guiding the Republic to three major finals during his nine-year reign

Ex-Republic of Ireland stars have passed on birthday wishes to their former international boss Jack Charlton after he turned 85.

Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge described Charlton as “the best manager I ever played for by far”.

“I love you to death pal. I really do. We had some great times together,” said Aldridge in a video tweet put out by the Football Association of Ireland.

Andy Townsend was among other Republic greats passing on birthday wishes.

After Charlton’s appointment in early 1986, he guided the Republic to the country’s first major finals when they reached Euro 88 and Townsend captained the Irish at the World Cup in Italy in 1990 as they progressed to the quarter-finals before a 1-0 defeat by the hosts.

“It’s coming up to 30 years now since Italia 90 which was amazing for us all,” said Townsend in the FAI video.

“[It was] Just a life-changing experience certainly for me and for all the lads. I want to thank you for all those great times we had together.

“I hope you’re behaving yourself and you’re not out shooting and fishing and going to the pub during this lockdown.

“Hopefully that will be over pretty soon and we can all look forward to coming and seeing you pretty shortly,” added the former Republic skipper.

Like Townsend, English-born Aldridge was given his international debut by Charlton and the former Liverpool striker said the ex-Republic manager “gave me the best time of my career”.

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Ray Houghton was another non Irish native who helped the country earn unprecedented success on the international stage and he wished his former manager “a very special birthday”.

“I just wanted to say thank you for the 10 wonderful years you were in charge of the Republic of Ireland and particularly selecting me for your first game in charge against Wales,” said Houghton, who also played alongside Aldridge at both Oxford United and Liverpool.

“I was delighted to be there throughout your career as the Irish manager right until the last game.

“I have so much to thank you for. I hope you have a great day with [wife] Pat and that you have a great celebration.”

Other ex-Republic stars Terry Phelan and Kevin Sheedy also contributed to the FAI’s birthday message to Charlton.

Speaking from his Bangalore home in India, Phelan wished the England 1966 World Cup winner a “beautiful birthday filled with love and happiness” while ex-winger Sheedy described the Charlton era “as a fabulous time”.

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