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Jack Charlton: England and Leeds United legend dies aged 85

Jack Charlton

England World Cup winner and legendary Leeds United defender Jack Charlton has died at the age of 85.

Leeds confirmed the news that their former centre-back had passed away on Friday night following a long-term illness.

Charlton made a club record 773 appearances for Leeds over a 23-year period, becoming one of the all-time great central defenders in the game.

He won 35 caps for England and played in every match during the 1966 World Cup which England went on to win, defeating West Germany 4-2 in the final at Wembley.

Charlton was also successful as a manager, leading the Republic of Ireland to two World Cups and a European Championships during his 10 years in charge.

After joining Leeds at the age of 15 in 1950 as part of the ground staff, Charlton signed professional terms and was handed a debut against Doncaster Rovers on Saturday, April 25, 1953, in a 1-1 draw at Elland Road.

‘Big Jack’ was part of the club’s most successful era to date, first helping win promotion from the Second Division twice as runners-up in 1955/56 and champions in 1963/64.

He was part of the side which won the League Cup in 1968, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1968 and 1971, the First Division in 1968/69, the Charity Shield in 1969 and the FA Cup in 1972.

He won his first England cap against Scotland on April 10, 1965, and was part of Sir Alf Ramsay’s England World Cup squad in 1966.

Charlton retired from playing at the end of the 1972/73 season, with his final game coming against Southampton on April 28, 1973.

Along with his record total of 773 appearances, Charlton scored 96 times for Leeds, making him the club’s ninth highest scorer in the club’s history.

A statement from the Charlton family said: “Jack died peacefully on Friday 10 July at the age of 85.

“He was at home in Northumberland, with his family by his side.

“As well as a friend to many, he was a much-adored husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

“We cannot express how proud we are of the extraordinary life he led and the pleasure he brought to so many people in different countries and from all walks of life.

“He was a thoroughly honest, kind, funny and genuine man who always had time for people.

“His loss will leave a huge hole in all our lives but we are thankful for a lifetime of happy memories.”

The England football team tweeted: “We are devastated by the news that Jack Charlton, a member of our World Cup-winning team of 1966, has passed away.

“Our deepest sympathies are with Jack’s family, friends and former clubs.”

The Football Association of Ireland also tweeted, saying: “The FAI is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jack Charlton, the manager who changed Irish football forever.

“Our thoughts are with Pat and the family at this sad time. #RIP”

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