Jack Charlton, Tony Cascarino and the Pope sounds like the start of some elaborate, and probably offensive, joke.
And it sort of was, as former Republic of Ireland manager Charlton poked fun at the player who was at fault for his sides World Cup exit at Italia ’90.
Football fans woke up on Saturday to the sad news of Jack Charlton’s passing.
The England legend died peacefully at his Northumberland home on Friday, July 10, at the age of 85.
Charlton spent his entire club career with Leeds and was voted Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year in 1967
Many will remember the former defender for being part of the 1966 World Cup winning side, and a key member of the famous Leeds United team in the last 60s and early 70s.
But he was also an adopted son of Ireland thanks to his ten-year career as manager of the Republic of Ireland team.
Known as ‘Big Jack’ by Irish fans, Charlton completely changed the fortunes of the men in green and became a beloved figure across the Irish Sea – a love he returned.
And one thing we’ve already learned since Saturday morning is there are plenty of stories about the legendary man, and most of them are belly-laugh funny.
So here’s one from the talkSPORT archives we thought we’d share again, as we look back on the life and career of one of English football’s great characters.
Listen to Tony Cascarino’s story about when the Republic of Ireland team met Pope John Paul II in Rome
We found this gem of a story from Weekend Sports Breakfast host Tony Cascarino about a trip to the Vatican in Rome to meet the Pope.
It led to one of the Ireland players striking up a surprise bond with the late Pope John Paul II, which came back to bite him later on.
Heres Cas with the full story:
Asked by Laura Woods if hes ever met any famous people, Cascarino replied: Yes, Ive met the Pope!
We went to the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican and it was quite funny because Jack Charlton was there and when Jack first saw the Pope he said to us: Hey, Im more famous than him.
But what not a lot of people know is, Pope John Paul II was a semi-professional goalkeeper, so he ended up having a chat with Packie Bonner about goalkeeping.
Packie Bonner was a one-club player for Celtic and ended his career with 80 Republic of Ireland caps
So were in the Sistine Chapel and were talking and all laughing watching Packie and the Pope talk about goalkeeping, and you could tell they were because of what they were doing with their hands.
Anyway, we played Italy in the quarter-finals of the World Cup we lost 1-0, and Packie Bonner has made the mistake for the goal.
The Irish put up a good fight in Rome and dominated the opening 30 minutes against an Italy side that featured Paolo Maldini, Roberto Baggio and Carlo Ancelotti.
But the hosts scored what turned out to be the winner against the run of play in the 39th minute, with Bonner pawing at a speculative, but sweetly-struck, shot from Roberto Donadoni and leaving the goal wide open for Salvatore Schillaci to slot home.
Packie Bonner made the penalty save against Romania that put Republic of Ireland through to the quarter-finals at Italia 90, but then suffered a blunder in the next round
Cascarino continued: In the dressing room after the game Jack Charlton thanked us all, and his final words were: Weve had a great World Cup, weve had a great time, go and have great holidays
Oh and by the way Packie, the Pope would have saved that!
And the funny thing is, in his prime, he probably would have.
RIP Big Jack, you’ll be missed.