Andy Townsend welled up as he watched the final cut of the Jack Charlton documentary.
Townsend is the executive producer on the excellent Finding Jack Charlton and found it poignant because his dad recently died from dementia.
Seeing his old Republic of Ireland boss degenerate in his final months through dementia before he died in July of lymphoma, reminded him of watching his dad Don fade from him bit by bit.
“It’s been quite tough the last few months because I lost my own dad six weeks ago to dementia,” said Townsend.
“It’s awful to witness because it really strips you – and I could see this with Jack – of all your character traits and personality. It strips that away and it’s such a shame.
“I’d been witnessing with my own dad a bit of what I saw with Jack when we started to put the film together 18 months ago.
“I saw the final cut for the film a few weeks after he passed away and it brought a tear to my eye.”
Townsend, 57, was part of his green revolution and he led the Republic, who had never previously qualified for a major tournament, to Euro 88, Italia 90 and USA 94.
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Townsend, Charlton’s captain at USA 94, recalls his idiosyncratic way to help the players sleep before their 1990 World Cup quarter-final against Italy.
“It was two nights before the quarter-final and at 10 o’clock that night we got a phone call to say there was a meeting downstairs, which was most unlike him,” he said.
“We all came downstairs and he had flown in a Guinness stand with a couple of pumps. There he was pouring us pints of Guinness.
What are your memories of the great Irish team of 1994? Have your say here.
“The Italian press had leaked where we were staying, so the taxi drivers were driving past beeping their horns all night long. So to make sure we all got a good night’s sleep, we were supping on pints of Guinness two nights before a World Cup quarter-final. That was part of his genius.”
Charlton did not get a reply when he applied for the England job and Townsend feels the FA must have regretted snubbing him when they failed to qualify for USA 94.
He added: “What was ironic was they went for Graham Taylor in 1990, who was also a direct style of coach. It wouldn’t surprise me that, without admitting it, they realised they made a c***-up.”
Townsend feels the Republic, as a country and a footballing nation, are still benefiting from Charlton’s legacy and he feels honoured to have known him.
“We all had a wonderful time with him,” he said. “I was lucky and privileged to have worked with him.”
Finding Jack Charlton is out on DVD and digital download via Sky Store and Apple TV from November 23. For more details go to www.findingjackcharlton.com
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