The brother of Jack Charlton says watching the football legend deteriorating due to dementia was ‘very difficult’.
However, Tommy Charlton is proud of his older brother for handling his battle against the condition ‘with dignity’.
The documentary Finding Jack Charlton – which was filmed during the last 18 months of Jack’s life – is due to screen on Virgin Media Television this Sunday, as part of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland’s Donate for Dementia Week.
Tommy told Newstalk Breakfast the documentary is an important one.
He said: “It was obvious to me for quite a while that he wasn’t right… that things were deteriorating. That was very difficult, and I suffered watching him deteriorate like that.
“I’m very proud of Jack, and the way he handled it. He had dignity and got through it the best he could. I think he knew he had this awful thing.”
Tommy says dementia is something that’s in the family, and several of his uncles also suffered from the condition towards the end of their lives.
He also fears it’s something that’s going to impact him, as he’s ‘not the way’ he used to be.
Tommy also shared some of his happy memories of his late brother, as well as reflecting on the ongoing legacy of the legendary former Ireland manager.
He recalled: “The last time he came here… he came and sat on the settee. My two grandsons ran and jumped on his knee… he had one on each arm. I’d never seen Jack smile like that in my life – he was absolutely in his element.
“Very famous people die and in a fortnight they’re forgotten. That doesn’t seem to be happening with Jack – Jack was bigger than that.
“It’s rewarding to know he’s still remembered so poignantly.”
Jack was a member of England’s 1966 World Cup winning team, and a number of members of that team have since been diagnosed with dementia.
It has reopened debates and discussions about whether there’s any link between heading footballs and dementia diagnoses later in life.
Weighing in on that debate, Tommy said: “Anybody who has never headed a very heavy football that’s wet on a cool day… has never experienced and can’t really have an opinion on what went on.
“I’ve done that, and I can tell you it’s not a pleasant experience. It is not normal in any way to head a ball coming from 30 yards up in the air, and head it back the way it come.”
Finding Jack Charlton will screen on Virgin Media TV One at 9pm this coming Sunday.