Eamon Dunphy: I'd shake Jack Charlton's hand for his 80th birthday; our feud was never personal
Published 08/05/2015 | 10:23
Eamon Dunphy has said that his fall-out with former Ireland manager Jack Charlton was "never personal" and says the country will always cherish a remarkable time in Irish life.
Charlton, who celebrates his 80th birthday today, led Ireland's most talented crop of footballers to Euro '88, Italia '90 and USA '94 and the country rejoiced in some glorious games under his management.
Wins over England, penalty shoot-outs in Genoa, heartbreak against the hosts in Italia '90 and beating the Italians in USA '94 will forever live in the memory, though not everyone was impressed with the style and tactics of Charlton's long-ball strategy.
Dunphy was one of the biggest critics, dismayed at the treatment of David O'Leary, the playing out of position of talented players such as Paul McGrath, Mark Lawrenson and Ronnie Whelan and the direct nature of football employed during his tenure.
Writing in The Star on Charlton's 80th birthday, Dunphy says their relationship broke down when Charlton felt "betrayal" over the journalist's views on the banishment of David O'Leary.
"Our relationship never recovered," he wrote. "So be it. When you are a journalist or football analyst, you have a job to do. It's not about being pals with everyone."
"I was never personal with jack. I just didn't agree with what he was doing with Ireland. But I do think very fondly of Jack and, if I were to meet him now, I'd shake his hand."
Dunphy paid tribute to the scalps along the way and his use of the ancestry rule – "If he was around now, I think he'd have been able to secure a Harry Kane or Jack Grealish".
He acknowledged the carnival atmosphere that gripped the country and admitted that "when we look back on that time, all the arguments over tactics and style fade."
Dunphy also made a special mention to Charlton's man-management of Paul McGrath, who had a constant battle with alcohol.
"Anyone who's read McGrath's autobiography will know that he was often in a very dark place during his football career.
"But Jack protected him, and managed to get him on the pitch to perform to an astonishingly high level again and again.
Charlton showed a lot of compassion and patience in the way he dealt with McGrath. It is to his credit."