Families in Football: Sir Bobby and Jack Charlton

Sir Bobby and Jack Charlton
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Welcome to Last Word on Football’s ‘Families in Football’ series. Over the next few weeks, we take a look at siblings, cousins, and even parents and children that have played the beautiful game. Some have played cup finals together while others have been on opposing sides. Today we look at Sir Bobby and Jack Charlton.

Families in Football: Sir Bobby and Jack Charlton

Sir Bobby Charlton

Of his era, Sir Bobby Charlton was someone who was venerated by the likes of Pele as one of the greatest English players to have played the game. Sir Bobby was an attacking dynamo and a legend for both Manchester United and England where his runs and goals from midfield were essential ingredients when it came to club and country success. He was renowned for his powerful shot and many a goalkeeper would have their hands stung when they faced Charlton, if they ever managed to get close to one of his ferocious pile drivers that is.

His debut for Manchester United came in 1956 where he became a first-team regular and one of the famed ‘Busby Babes’ before tragedy struck two years later in 1958 with the Munich air disaster which saw many of his team mates lose their lives. Charlton was a survivor and remains the only living survivor of that fateful crash.

Following a rebuilding process at Old Trafford, Charlton helped United to success, winning the 1965 First Division title and subsequently the 1967 title in what proved to be a golden era for the player and club. 1968 saw Charlton captain United to the European Cup, making them the first English club to win the competition, and he was on the scoresheet twice. Ten seasons after the Munich disaster, the final was a highly emotional night at Wembley stadium and the win dedicated to those who lost their lives.

For England, he was a mainstay of the team, being named in four World Cups, although he only played in 1962, 1966 and 1970 with the highlight being the 1966 World Cup as England took the trophy on home soil. The final saw Charlton’s threat nullified by a young Franz Beckenbauer and he did the same to the young German star as England won 4-2 after extra time.

Charlton held the record number of caps for an England international until 1973 and now lies seventh in the all-time record having been overtaken by the likes of Bobby Moore, David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Peter Shilton.

There can be no doubt that Charlton is one of the best players to have worn the red of Manchester United and white of England.

Jack Charlton

Jack Charlton was a no-nonsense, tough tackling defender who made an early impression at Leeds United playing for the youth team and at the age of just 16, was promoted from the reserve squad. At 17, Jack signed his first professional contract and his journey to being a well-renowned centre back was well and truly underway.

His debut came in April 1953 when he replaced Leeds legend John Charles at centre half as Leeds earned a 1-1 draw but his football career was about to be put on hold for two years as National Service ensured he would have to wait to reignite what was already looking to be a promising career.

When he did return to first-team action, he helped Leeds gain promotion to the First Division at the end of the 1955/56 league campaign. However, he had a penchant for late nights and the partying lifestyle that were at odds with his brother and he was shown no mercy as he was dropped for the second half of the 1956/57 season due to his late-night indiscretions. Only when he was married did he start to settle down and regain his place for the 1957/58 season.

Yet when Don Revie become the manager of Leeds United, Charlton would again endure a tough lesson as Revie was not keen on him at all. Charlton’s career seemed to be coming to a shuddering halt whilst younger brother Bobby was raising his profile worldwide amongst football’s elite.

Jack Charlton was never one to be a shrinking violet and stood firm in his desire to be a success at Leeds United and he would become a pivotal part of Revie’s Leeds side who became notorious for their physical style of play with the likes of Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles. Despite that team being notorious, success always seemed to elude them until they won their first-ever Football League title in 1968/69, losing just twice.

Charlton won his final trophy with Leeds as they beat Arsenal by a solitary goal in the 1972 FA Cup final and the following year he decided to hang up his boots.

Games Played Together and Against

Sir Bobby and Jack Charlton lined up for England together on 28 occasions, including every minute of all six matches at the 1966 World Cup. Amazingly, the brothers lost just twice when playing together for England.

The Charltons would face off against each other 20 times in matches between Manchester United and Leeds. Surprisingly, Sir Bobby was only on the winning side twice.

Interesting Facts

Bobby Charlton did his talking on the pitch whilst ‘Big’ Jack Charlton did his both on and off the field and was always a larger than life character. Jack was also admired as a manager and his time with the Republic of Ireland stood out, not least the 1990 World Cup.

Despite their success as brothers on the field, there were always rumours of unrest between the pair over the years and their personalities were said to clash.

On the pitch, there is no doubt whatever that Sir Bobby Charlton and Jack Charlton were and forever will be true legends of the game.

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