Des pays tribute to Big Jack

The man who oversaw the appointment of Ireland’s greatest manager Jack Charlton has paid tribute to the popular Geordie who passed away last weekend aged 85.
Des, a former Vice President of UEFA, described Jack as ‘a great personality and a very straight up kind of guy’ while sending sympathies to his wife Pat and family.
Dundalk man Des Casey was President of the FAI between 1984 and 1986 and with Irish football at its lowest ebb at the end of 1985 after a disastrous World Cup qualifying campaign a new manager was needed following Eoin Hand’s dismissal. Des travelled to Manchester airport with Dr Tony O’Neill to interview Charlton who had recently resigned from managing hometown club Newcastle Utd.
According to Des the popular Geordie was the right man at the right time and a manager who oversaw the greatest period in Irish football history.
“I was very sad to hear of Jack’s passing last weekend,” stated Des. “He was without doubt our greatest manager and he was a great personality and loved by Irish fans all over the country. My experiences of him were all good and you always knew where you stood with Jack as he was a straight up guy and said what was on his mind.
“Irish soccer was at a really low ebb before Jack came in. We had just had a poor World Cup qualifying campaign under Eoin Hand and attendances were plummeting. As well as that Northern Ireland were doing really well having qualified for both the 1982 and 1986 World Cup’s so we knew we needed to change things drastically,” recalls Des.
“I remember when myself and Dr Tony O’Neill interviewed Jack in Manchester airport we were impressed with his knowledge of Irish players and his ideas to move the team forward. He had an impressive track record in club football having got both Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesboro promoted and he was available having just parted ways with Newcastle. He was definitely the right man at the right time and what he did over the next ten years will never be forgotten.
“We appointed him in February of 1986 and I suppose none of us at that meeting in could have predicted just how dramatically Jack would transform Irish soccer so dramatically over the next decade. It was probably a gamble at the time as it wasn’t a popular choice in some circles but it was one which paid off handsomely. He will be missed and myself and my wife Mary send our condolences to Jack’s wife Pat and their family,” added Des

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