Mick McCarthy believes the passing of former Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton “will be felt in Ireland more than anywhere else”.
Charlton, who led the Republic to their first World Cup in 1990, and again in 1994, passed away on Friday aged 85.
McCarthy captained Charlton’s side at the 1990 tournament in Italy and said his former manager “changed his life”.
“He changed everything for all of us who played for Ireland and just look at the memories we have,” said McCarthy.
“Jack’s passing will touch Ireland, England and the football world, but the loss to football will be felt in Ireland more than anywhere else,” said McCarthy on FAI.ie.
“English fans will always remember Jack as one of their World Cup winners in 1966 but what he did with Ireland will, I suspect, mean even more to our fans and the country.
The Football Association of Ireland said Charlton was “the manager who changed Irish football forever” after leading his adopted country to three major tournaments.
After taking over in 1986, Charlton guided the Republic to the 1988 European Championships and a famous 1-0 win over England in Stuttgart.
Qualification for the 1990 World Cup in Italy followed, which included a dream run to the quarter-finals after impressive draws with England and the Netherlands in the group stage.
The Republic eventually exited the tournament at the hands of the host nation, but gained revenge over Italy four years later at the 1994 tournament in the USA as the Republic once more defied the odds to reach the knockout stage.
McCarthy, who managed the Republic to their third World Cup in 2002 and left his second spell as boss in April, spoke to Charlton shortly after his 85th birthday in May and said: “I told him I loved the bones of him that day and I always will.
“That’s how we will remember him, with a great big smile on his face. I know this is a sad day but we will remember the great days as well.”
Niall Quinn, former Republic of Ireland striker and current interim deputy chief executive of the FAI, also paid tribute to Charlton.
“Jack Charlton led the band. He brought us, as a players and fans, to places we never thought possible beforehand and gave us so many precious moments,” said Quinn, who won 92 international caps.
“He changed lives. For his players, he gave us the best days of our lives.
“This news has hit me with a bang. We have so much to be grateful to Jack for and I am truly saddened, like so many others, with this news today.
“Our thoughts go to Pat and Jack’s family who shared that wonderful journey with us. May he rest in peace.”