Finding Jack Charlton (2020) Review

Jack Charlton an English World Cup winning legend who then went on as a manager to Ireland and became a hero. Not shying away from his battle with dementia in those final years.


Jack Charlton was part of the England World Cup winning squad who was certainly a larger than life character, spending his whole football career at Leeds United confirmed how unique he was as a player. Heading into management he was about to face probably the toughest task in his career, not very well received as he first went to Ireland given him being English, but claiming the hearts of a nation when the team actually started doing quite well.

Looking at the relationship with his brother Bobby Charlton, who is often regarded as the more well known of the brothers. Maybe due to playing positions being so different as well along with the Manchester United career probably just made him more famous in that sense. It highlights the fact that they were just two totally different characters, despite being brothers they just didn’t have a whole lot in common other than playing football. Nothing wrong with that though of course.

The focus of this portrait of a truly amazing character was the Ireland experience and in particular the 1990 World Cup in Italy. In all honesty I didn’t really know much about this story and how against all odds Ireland actually did very well. Another highlight was seeing the relationship between Paul McGrath and Charlton, which really gives you so much hope when it comes to players and managers helping each other.

The dementia he was suffering from was highlighted with a few scenes as well which I thought was heartbreaking to witness yet so utterly important for people to see how it impacts the person and those around them. The part where he was watching a video and said that’s me but had no memory of it happening was gut wrenching. It is a truly awful disease and for this documentary to raise awareness about it is brilliant in my opinion.

Directed by Gabriel Clarke and that makes perfect sense to why it had a similar feel to Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager, another sport documentary that is what can only be described as a fitting tribute to a great man. Something I feel he totally nailed with Finding Jack Charlton.

Some truly fantastic footage was included in this film and seeing Jack standing infront of the whole Ireland squad singing The Blaydon Races was a particular highlight, as well as him being serenaded with a lyric change to Hey Jude, with Hey Jack. Little moments like those are amazing to see the closeness of a squad at an international tournament. It makes me wonder though just how much things have changed in the past thirty years and if they are still as close and have as much fun as the 90s seemed.

A lovely tribute to a true one off character that we will probably never see similar to again in football, everything has changed so much and we don’t seem to get anyone so open, honest and to the point as Jack Charlton.

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