Jack Charlton
Jack Charlton
Personal information
Date of Birth 8 May 1935
Place of Birth England
Leeds career
Playing position Centre-half
Number 5
Senior 5/1952 - 5/1973

John "Jack" Charlton, OBE, DL (born 8 May 1935) spent his entire club career with Leeds United from 1950 to 1973. He helped the club to the Second Division title (1963–64), First Division title (1968–69), FA Cup (1972), League Cup (1968), Charity Shield (1969), Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (1968 and 1971). Charlton also played for promotion from the Second Division (1955–56) and five second-place finishes in the First Division, two FA Cup final defeats and one Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final defeat.

Charlton played for Leeds United's youth team in the Northern Intermediate League and then for the third team in the Yorkshire League; playing in the physically demanding Yorkshire League at the age of 16 impressed the club's management, and he was soon promoted to the reserve team. Manager Raich Carter handed him his first professional contract when Charlton turned 17. He made his debut on 25 April 1953 against Doncaster Rovers, taking John Charles' place at centre-half after Charles was moved up to centre-forward.

He then had to serve two years National Service with the Household Cavalry, and captained the Horse Guards to victory in the Cavalry Cup in Hanover. His National Service limited his contribution to Leeds, and he made only one appearance in the 1954–55 season.

Charlton returned to the first team in September 1955, and kept his place for the rest of the 1955–56 season, helping the "Whites" to win promotion into the First Division after finishing second to Sheffield Wednesday. The 1962–63 season was the beginning of a new era for Leeds United as Revie began to mould the team and the club into his own liking. In a game against Swansea City in September, Revie dropped many senior players and played Charlton in a young new defensive line-up: Gary Sprake (goalkeeper), Paul Reaney (right-back), Norman Hunter and Charlton (centre-back), and Rod Johnson (left-back). With the exception of Johnson, this defensive line-up would remain consistent for much of the rest of the decade. Aided by new midfield signing Johnny Giles, the "Peacocks" put in a strong promotion challenge and finished fifth, before securing promotion as champions in the 1963–64 campaign, topping the table two points ahead of Sunderland. Other players that began to make their mark on the first team included Billy Bremner, Paul Madeley and Peter Lorimer, who would all remain with Leeds right up until the end of the 1970s.

Leeds made an immediate impact on their first season back in the top flight, however the team gained a reputation for rough play. They went 25 games unbeaten before losing to Manchester United at Elland Road. Leeds needed a win in their final game of the season to secure the title but could only manage a 3–3 draw with Birmingham City at St Andrew's – Charlton scored the equalising goal on 86 minutes but they could not push on for a winner. They gained some measure of revenge over Man United by beating them 1–0 in the replay of the FA Cup semi-finals.

United again competed for honours in the 1965–66 season, finishing second to Liverpool in the league and reaching the semi-finals of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. It was the club's first season in European competition, and they beat Italian side Torino, German club SC Leipzig, Spanish club Valencia and Hungarian outfit Újpest, before they were beaten 3–1 by Spanish side Real Zaragoza at Elland Road in a tiebreaker game following a 2–2 aggregate draw.

The 1966–67 season proved frustrating for United, despite the introduction of another club great in the form of Eddie Gray. Leeds finished fourth, five points behind champions Manchester United, and exited the FA Cup at the semi-finals after defeat to Chelsea. They made progress in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, beating DWS (Netherlands), Valencia, Bologna (Italy) and Kilmarnock (Scotland) to reach the final, where they were beaten 2–0 on aggregate by Yugoslavian outfit Dinamo Zagreb. At the end of the season Charlton was named as the Footballer of the Year, succeeding his brother who had won it the previous year.

In the 1967–68 season, Leeds went on to lift the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup after beating CA Spora Luxembourg, FK Partizan (Yugoslavia), Hibernian (Scotland), Rangers (Scotland) and Dundee (Scotland) to reach the final with Hungarian club Ferencvárosi. They won 1–0 at Elland Road and drew 0–0 in Budapest to claim their first European trophy.

Charlton helped Leeds to their first ever Football League title in 1968–69, as they lost just two games to finish six points clear of second-place Liverpool. They secured the title with a goalless draw at Anfield on 28 April, and Charlton later recalled the Liverpool supporters affectionately called him "big dirty giraffe" and that manager Bill Shankly went into the Leeds dressing room after the match to tell them they were "worthy champions".

"People say Leeds United should have won a lot more – and maybe we would have won a lot more, if we hadn't been involved in every competition right until the end of each season. I mean, we got used to losing things ... Yes, there was a lot of disappointment – but there was a lot of pride too, pride and passion and discipline which kept the Leeds family together when we might have fallen apart."
— Charlton won many honours with Leeds, but many more runners-up medals.

United opened the 1969–70 campaign by winning the Charity Shield with a 2–1 win over Manchester City, and went on to face realistic possibility of winning the treble – the league, FA Cup and European Cup. However they missed out on all three trophies as the games built up towards the end of the season. Leeds finished second in the 1971–72 season for the third successive time, but Charlton managed to complete his list of domestic honours as Leeds beat Arsenal 1–0 in the FA Cup final. Charlton was limited to 25 appearances in the 1972–73 campaign and suffered an injury in the FA Cup semi-final against Wolves which ended his season. After failing to regain his fitness for the final, he announced his retirement.

Charlton's 629 league and 762 total competitive appearances are club records. In 2006, Leeds United supporters voted Charlton into the club's greatest ever XI.

Jack Charlton is number 6 in Leeds United's 100 greatest players.