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39 Steps to Greatness: How Jack Charlton took the Boys in Green from also-rans to the world's centre stage

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Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton celebrates after his side qualified for the knock-out stages of Italia 90

Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton celebrates after his side qualified for the knock-out stages of Italia 90

SPORTSFILE

Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton celebrates after his side qualified for the knock-out stages of Italia 90

His uniform was a flat cap that concealed an ebbing, old-school comb-over, a rough and ready pitman’s pragmatism. And, on occasion, a gnawed cigar cupped carefully against the wind.

Jack Charlton, son of an Ashington coalminer, custodian of an abrasive, unadorned nature, 1966 World Cup winner; he was the unlikely author of a story that was one-part football, 99 parts national coming of age.

In the latest of our ‘39 Steps’ series, we chart Ireland's journey into the light, the advance from the shadows to centre stage in summer's great festivals.