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Drogheda’s Kelly lauds ‘second dad’ Charlton on his ‘saddest day’

Jack Charlton and Gary Kelly
Jack Charlton and Gary Kelly. Photo Credits: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Former Republic of Ireland international has added his voice to the tributes paid to Jack Charlton, the legendary Republic of Ireland manager and 1966 World Cup winner, who has passed away at the age of 85.

Charlton took over the Ireland senior team in 1985 and lead them to three major tournaments in 10 years in the job – Euro 88 and then the World Cups in 1990 and 1994. He cemented his place in Irish sporting and cultural folklore by leading the Boys In Green to famous tournament wins against England and Italy, while also guiding the nation to the last eight of Italia 90, the country’s first appearance at a World Cup.

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He selected a teenage Kelly as part of his squad for the 1994 World Cup in the United States and the youngster made his FIFA World Cup debut, starting ahead of Denis Irwin at right back as the Republic of Ireland secured a 0-0 draw against Norway to seal their place in the last 16.

Aged just 19, Kelly became the youngest player to represent the Boys In Green at a major tournament. The Leeds United player also started the last 16 defeat against the Netherlands. He would also represent his country at the 2002 World Cup before retiring from international football in 2003 with 52 caps and two goals to his name.

On Saturday morning, Kelly paid tribute to his former manager. “Saddest day for a long time. He was so good to me and my family over the years,” he wrote on Facebook. “He was like my second dad on and off the field because of the Leeds blood in us both. RIP Jack. I’ll never forget you for what you gave me.”

Charlton and Kelly are both Leeds United stalwarts. Charlton is the club’s record appearance maker, lining out for the team 773 times in his career. Kelly is eigth on the all-time appearance record for the club, playing 531 games in all competitions between 1992 and 2007.

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