"To be honest, I'm sad. Gutted. My heart is heavy. I thought he'd live forever. I know no one lives for ever but I just can't imagine him gone, dead. He was a real, genuine legend."
That was the reaction of Longford's Michael Gibbons to the news of the death of former Republic of Ireland manager and England World Cup winner Jack Charlton.
Michael spoke with Tiernan Dolan, curator of the Humans of Longford Facebook page, on Saturday morning.
He said, "Jack Charlton might be gone but in a way, he'll live forever for a whole lot of people.
"I'm one of them. He lifted the whole country. He gave us something to believe in. Spirit, fighting spirit, pride, real pride and we puffed out our chests because of Big Jack.
"Sure I never dreamt of being in Italy or America following the boys in green at the World Cups but those dreams came true for me and a whole lot of others too. Those memories of Italy and America will live forever.
"He really made dreams come true. That's why I'm sad today, ok. He was 85, full life but he really made a huge difference to so many people's lives and he visited Longford Town.
"At least we now have an other manager with massive links to Longford, Stephen Kenny. He made dreams come true for Longford Town. From rock bottom to Europe, some achievement.
"I suppose you heard the story about when he almost left. We were playing Kilkenny, 1nil down. Mickey Cox says there wasn't enough money to pay the players. Kenny said he'd walk at the final whistle but another Longford legend, the late and great Butch Tracey heard what he said.
"Butch asked for an hour. He raced home, opened his socks drawer where he kept bundles of coins for a rainy day. This was the rainy day. It was lashing!
"Anyway, Butch's money saved the day, Longford Town eventually won 2-1 and went on to be promoted. Legends, the two of them, Jack and Stephen. I have faith in Stephen Kenny, he'll do the business.
"I'm soccer mad, love it, love the games. The craic, we've lost sport for the last few months and now today, we've lost a legend of sport, Big Jack.
"That's why I'm sad today. A bit down, just couldn't chat about anything else. But at least, the games will be starting again in a few weeks. Can't wait."
June 7, 2015.— Gavan Reilly (@gavreilly) July 11, 2020
The Republic of Ireland host England in an international friendly, the first in Dublin since the abandoned match in 1995.
At half time, the two countries’ supporters clubs make a presentation to Jack Charlton to honour his huge contribution to both.#RIPJack. pic.twitter.com/dUMSjXYRuG
Big Jack,my parents & Irelands greatest fan Fr Hugh Turbett. Fr Hugh followed Ireland everywhere..v Lativa in Riga 93 he was suppose to attend something with bishop he couldn't get out off- but low & behold was spotted on TV in Riga & mentioned by George Hamilton in commentary! pic.twitter.com/SVPjxW02nq— Cathal McGuinness (@c1mcguinness) July 11, 2020
He gave us some of our greatest days ....and even better nights !!!— Ciaran Mullooly (@ciaranmullooly) July 11, 2020
I honestly don’t think we will ever see anything like it ever again
What a GIANT of a man
RIP JACK pic.twitter.com/TNDwS2caR9
Jack Charlton's main legacy is his making an extraordinary number of people extraordinarily happy, and I can't think of a better life lived than that.— Gavin Cooney (@gcooney93) July 11, 2020
"We were frightened of nobody. Everybody was frightened of us - and it was lovely!"— Leeds United (@LUFC) July 11, 2020
Bringing #Ireland's History to Life.— Rob Cross (@RobCross247) July 11, 2020
My colourised 1952 photo of Jack Charlton who joined Leeds in 1950 and stayed until 1973. During his time at Elland Road he helped Leeds win several major honours, including the First Division title in 1969, the FA Cup in 1972.#COYBIG #RIP pic.twitter.com/WWpmgp7GUt
We are devastated by the news that Jack Charlton, a member of our World Cup-winning team of 1966, has passed away.— England (@England) July 11, 2020
Our deepest sympathies are with Jack’s family, friends and former clubs. pic.twitter.com/eSGjbOpo7Y
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