JACK IS widely travelled thanks to his football career. These days, he is in high demand as an after-dinner speaker. "I've been to Australia, the Middle East, the Far East and Hong Kong. Generally, I talk about football and my memories - the lighter side of the game. I've got an invitation on my desk to go and do some talks and coaching in Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia."

Asians are fanatical about football, and Jack finds recognition there as much as in Britain. "It's amazing. In Hong Kong, people just stopped me in the street and said 'Jack-ee Charlton'."

Since he stopped playing football in 1973, Jack has been involved in various managerial jobs. "But I have always had to go abroad, perhaps two or three times a year, either to watch a game or because I was working for television on the World Cup or the European Championships."

The worst thing, he finds, about touring with a team is getting everyone back home. "You tell the players you're leaving at 12 o'clock and some still haven't turned up at 1 o'clock. You have to find which pub they're in and get them out."

So, does Jack sympathise with Gazza and Sheringham's extra-curricular drinking? "There is a time to do it and a time not to do it. I don't agree that we should find them guilty three weeks before a competition starts."

Jack hasn't missed a World Cup since glorious 1966, but he doesn't intend to go this time. "I am saying I am not going, but because of sponsorship deals with various companies, I may have to fly out there on short notice to give out prizes."

The Charltons own a house in Ballina, on the west coast of Ireland, which allows Jack to indulge in his other great passion, fishing. "July is my month in Ireland - we look forward to it every year." He gets about a bit, going from river bank to sea to lake, fishing for salmon, sea trout and brown trout. "I'll be keeping my eye on the World Cup from the river bank," he jokes.

"I travel on an English passport and my wife and I have also got an Irish one. They made me an honorary Irish citizen when I was managing the Irish side. We use either one. Sometimes, it is just handier to take the Irish one - it's smaller!"

They also own a property in Spain, just north of Benidorm, which they visit every January. Part of the charm for Jack is its low maintenance. "It's a house with no garden in a village, so we can just lock it up and walk away knowing it'll be exactly the same when we return. I might touch it up with a drop of white paint, but that's it."

And who does Jack Charlton think will be lifting the World Cup in 1998? "I like the look of the French. They have been preparing very diligently in the last year. They are going to be very difficult to beat."