John Harkes going to Sheffield, Wednesday.
New York Post
 
        
 
 

Footballing Heroes 
3. Bobby and Jack Charlton

   
Unique in the world of football, Geordie lads Jackie and Bobby Charlton remain the only twins ever to lift the World Cup. Even more remarkable is the fact that the two were born years apart. Bobby and Jackie, or Jackie and Bobby as they prefer to be known, were born near Newcastle towards the end of the Second World War. Although too young to have had a major role in that conflagration, the two brothers vowed to some day punish the Germans for their action - a promise fulfilled on that sunny day in Wembley in 1966.

Balding old man
The Charltons bestrode the English game in the 60s and early 70s, playing as they did for two of the country's powerhouse clubs - Manchester United and Leeds United. Bobby, the elder of the twins, was master of the Red Devils' midfield. As a squad player, Bobby survived the Munich air crash, which curiously occurred in Germany, and came of age in Busby's reconstructed side of the 60s. Balding prematurely, Bobby used the horrible affliction to his advantage in those glory years and became a hero to balding men the world over. Unashamed of his hideous, shining pate, Bobby fooled many a midfield adversary with his "I'm only an old helpless man" routine, whereby Bobby would ask his opponents to have a care for his age before bursting past them to rocket home many a spectacular goal.

World Cup hat trick
Although he went on to become England's top international scorer, Bobby took time to adapt to the game at international level. It was not until he had his "old helpless man" ruse translated into a multitude of languages that he began to excel. His career peaked in the period between 1966 and 1968 when he won World Cup and European Cup medals. Bobby has always been seen as something as a gentleman of the game with colleagues always quick to say that the man was generous to a fault. This was never better illustrated than in the World Cup final itself. Although Geoff Hurst is credited with the only ever World Cup final hat trick, those in the know and close to the England squad will tell you that it was Bobby who really scored the goals. But not wishing to hog the limelight and anxious to forward his friend Hurst's career, Bobby has never admitted to this fact. In fact, Charlton also only laid claim to one of his four goals against Benfica in the 1968 European Cup final.

Stretch Armstrong
Bobby retired from top flight football in the late 1980s, not long after Sir Alex Ferguson took charge of the side. Sir Alex explained to Bobby that he was now actually an old, balding man. Bobby was replaced by Ralph Milne and Mickey Phelan. In retirement, Bobby has returned to his other great love - adding to his renowned Stretch Armstrong collection.

Seven feet tall
Jackie Charlton was a teak-tough defender feared by strikers across England and the world. Standing at over 7 feet tall, Jackie was master of the air but showed considerable ability on the ground. In fact, former Leeds star David Wetherall has gone so far as to say that Jackie was the greatest central defender he had ever seen play. Praise indeed. Jackie's greatest hour also came with the winning of the World Cup. Although he did not score a hat trick, many close to the side at the time say that he could have. But Jackie did play a critical role in seeing that the Germans scored less than four goals in the game, thus paving the way for his brother's heroics. In the early 1970s, Jackie was part of the all-conquering Leeds side and picked up a couple of championship medals before retiring from the field of play in 1973.

Paddywhackery
Jackie moved into the managerial profession in the late 1970s, but saw little success at Middlesboro and Newcastle. He seemed destined to drift out of the game and into professional angling until a massive stroke of luck saw him installed as manager of the Eire international squad in 1986. Meaning to ring Liverpool great Bob Paisley to offer him the role, FAI general secretary Des Casey mistakenly rang Jack instead. Embarrassed by his error, Des offered the job to Jackie along with angling licenses for all rivers in the Republic and the right to wear his waders during international matches. Charlton jumped at the chance and combined his fish worrying practices with a keen football eye to take Eire to the European Championships of 1988 and two successive World Cups in 1990 and 1994. However, after failing to win any of these tournaments, Jackie was sacked and banished from the country in 1996.

Jackie will be best remembered in world football for increasing the distances that international footballers could kick the ball. It was this achievement that saw FIFA introduce heavier footballs to undermine the Charlton factor and send the Irish into a footballing demise.

More Footballing Heroes.
1. Ray Houghton
2. John Aldridge