Called up to the England team days before his 30th birthday, Charlton went on to score six goals in 35 international games and to appear in two World Cups and one European Championship. He played in the World Cup final victory over West Germany in 1966, and also helped England to finish third in Euro 1968 and to win four British Home Championship tournaments. He was named FWA Footballer of the Year in 1967.
After retiring as a player he worked as a manager, and led Middlesbrough to the Second Division title in 1973–74, winning the Manager of the Year award in his first season as a manager. He kept Boro as a stable top-flight club before he resigned in April 1977. He took charge of Sheffield Wednesday in October 1977, and led the club to promotion out of the Third Division in 1979–80. He left the Owls in May 1983, and went on to serve Middlesbrough as caretaker-manager at the end of the 1983–84 season. He worked as Newcastle United manager for the 1984–85 season. He took charge of the Republic of Ireland national team in February 1986, and led them to their first ever World Cup in 1990, where they reached the quarter-finals. He also led the nation to successful qualification to Euro 1988 and the 1994 World Cup. He resigned in January 1996 and went into retirement. He is married with three children.
Born into a footballing family in Ashington, Northumberland on 8 May 1935, Charlton was initially overshadowed by his younger brother Bobby, who was taken on by Manchester United while Jack was doing his National Service with the Household Cavalry. His uncles were Jack Milburn (Leeds United and Bradford City), George Milburn (Leeds United and Chesterfield), Jim Milburn (Leeds United and Bradford Park Avenue) and Stan Milburn (Chesterfield, Leicester City and Rochdale), and legendary Newcastle United and England footballer Jackie Milburn was his mother's cousin.
The economy of the village of Ashington was based entirely around coal mining, and though his family had a strong footballing pedigree, his father was a miner. The eldest of four brothers – Bobby, Gordon and Tommy – the tight finances of the family meant that all four siblings shared the same bed. His father, Bob, had no interest in football, but his mother, Cissie, played football with her children and later coached the local schools team. As a teenager she took them to watch Ashington and Newcastle United play, and Charlton remained a lifelong Newcastle supporter.
At the age of 15 he was an offered a trial at Leeds United, where his uncle Jim was left back, but turned it down and instead joined his father in the mines. He worked in the mines for a short time but handed in his notice after finding out just how difficult and unpleasant it was to work deep underground. He applied to join the police and reconsidered the offer from Leeds United. His trial game for Leeds clashed with his police interview, and Charlton chose to play in the game; the trial was a success and he joined the ground staff at Elland Road.