Leeds United's Jack Charlton smoking a cigarette during a training session in the 1970s.

11 of Jack Charlton’s best quotes: ‘Can we go now? I’d like a beer’

There are few former footballers we would have liked to have gone for a pint with as much as Jack Charlton.

A legendary defender for both Leeds United and England, Charlton became revered in the Republic of Ireland for his work as manager of the national team – both on and off the pitch.

We’ve taken a look at some of the best quotes and stories about Big Jack.


“We probably got on better with the likes of Holland, Belgium, Norway and Sweden, some of whom are not even European.”


“It was a game we should have won. We lost it because we thought we were going to win it. But then again, I thought that there was no way we were going to get a result there.”


Charlton, much like Bobby Robson, was famously never too good at remembering players’ names.

According to Alan McLoughlin, during a game with the Netherlands, Charlton told Mick McCarthy to “stay tight on Van Cleef”.

“Mick had to tell Jack that Lee van Cleef was a dead Hollywood film star!” McLoughlin writes in his autobiography.

Starting XI

On a similar theme, Chris Waddle recounted to the Daily Mail a tale of how Charlton named Newcastle’s starting XI for George Reilly’s debut.

“‘Right…ghoulkeeper is the ghoulkeeper. Right-back is the big laird, two centre-backs…the big laird and the big laird, left-back, (which was Kenny Wharton) the little laird. Right wing (me)…the big laird, centre mids…the two big lairds, left wide (Peter Beardsley)…the little laird, up front…the big laird and…’

“And he started to click his fingers as he looked at George Reilly.

“And he said, ‘…and up front…erm…erm…erm…what’s your name, son?’ Still clicking his fingers.

“George Reilly looked at the rest of us as if to say, ‘Is he serious?’

“And then he said, ‘You signed me yesterday from Watford for £200,000 . . . I’m George Reilly.’

“And Jack said, ‘Aaah . . . is that your name? I always knew George Reilly as the big laird.'”

Eamon Dunphy

At his first press conference as Republic of Ireland boss, Charlton said to the former international and outspoken pundit: “I know you. You are a trouble maker. I’m bigger than you.”

Towards the end of his reign, when Dunphy called on the manager to resign, Charlton said: “My refusal to answer questions from Dunphy was the biggest mistake I ever made. I made Eamon very, very famous.”


After the penalty shootout victory against Romania at Italia 90, Charlton said: “I started smoking again. I hadn’t smoked in about two years.”

We’re starting to suspect Maurizio Sarri may have been at that game.


After a 3-0 loss to Portugal, Charlton asked the media during his post-match press conference: “Can we go now, please? I’d like a beer.”

Drinking, again

As John Aldridge told The Mail, if Charlton caught one of his players drinking a glass of coke, he would reprimand them: “What are you drinking that sh*t for? Guinness is better for you.”

Ray Houghton

Charlton substituted Houghton during a 1994 World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland, much to the midfielder’s disgust.

“He said, ‘I’m the only one getting any chances.’ I said, ‘You’re the only one missing chances.'”


“Man United have shops all round the world. It’s a big money-spinner, plus the fact that they change their strip every five minutes.”

Hard work

“Nothing is given to you. You’ve got to work for it.”

READ NEXT: A tribute to Jack Charlton’s Republic of Ireland and a memorable era

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