Why Jack Grealish is a missed opportunity for Irish football

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Ireland’s recent Nations League defeat by Wales was yet another timely reminder of how far the nation’s footballing prowess has slipped in recent years. While the Irish team is capable of playing some attractive football, it has become evident that there is just not enough quality in the squad. All of which makes the ascent of Jack Grealish to become one of England’s best players all the more humiliating. 

 

Grealish was born in Birmingham, England. But his Irish grandparents made him eligible to play for Ireland. As such, the attacking midfielder was selected for the Republic of Ireland U17 team in 2001. From here, Grealish made 19 appearances for the Ireland youth teams between 2011 and 2014, and scored six goals. 

 

Such was Grealish’s quality that he quickly became the subject of a tug-of-war between Ireland and England before making his first full international debut. It was reported that the player turned down a call-up to the senior Irish team in 2014, and he announced that he’d be no longer taking part in youth internationals in 2015. This decision was made by Grealish in a bid to concentrate on breaking into the Aston Villa first team. 

 

2015 was the year that Grealish eventually made the momentous decision to represent England at international level. The youngster had previously met England manager Roy Hodgson to discuss his future, and he eventually made his debut for the England under-21s in May 2016.

 

From here, Grealish has become one of the best things to happen to English football in years. His sparkling form last season was a major reason why Aston Villa stayed in the Premier League. Grealish has shown an ability to run at opponents without fear that has caused many people to compare him with the likes of Paul Gascoigne.

 

Grealish is still relatively young at 25 years of age, but the past six months have seen him displaying more maturity both on and off the pitch. The midfielder was pictured inhaling nitrous oxide in 2015, and courted controversy earlier this year when he flouted Covid regulations by crashing his £80k Range Rover after being at a house party until 4am. This came just days after Grealish appeared in a video encouraging football fans to stay at home. 

 

But the star has apparently changed his attitude and this finally caused him to get his first senior England international call-up in August 2020. This came after a time when another promising England youngster, James Maddison, was pictured playing at a casino when he had dropped out of the squad due to illness. All of which suggests that Maddison should have been better off playing at home with the best casino sign up bonuses via captaingambling.com rather than let Grealish steal his place in the England side.

 

Grealish made his England debut as a substitute against Denmark in early September. While this game didn’t give him much of a chance to shine, the 25-year old has rapidly grown to be an key player in the new-look England line-up. While the player ratings of the Irish team left much to be desired in their 3-0 defeat by England, Grealish sparkled on the pitch and showed both Ireland and England what they’d been missing. 

 

The attacking midfielder instantly became a key playmaker in the England team and quickly produced some great partnerships with Jadon Sancho and Reece James. All of which meant that Grealish earned a full 90 minutes in England’s recent Nations League game against Belgium. While England were beaten 2-0, Grealish was by far the best player on the pitch. 

 

He showed an endless hunger for running at the Belgian defenders with the ball, and produced no shortage of masterful flicks that caused him to run rings around the highest ranked football team in the world. All of which has made a strong case for Grealish to be a permanent inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s starting eleven for next year’s Euros. 

 

However, there are still many elements in Grealish’s game that could be improved. Some critics have noted that his determination to run at players causes the overall attack to be slowed down, and others have suggested that he lacks the goalscoring touch to make him a regular England starter. Despite these criticisms, it’s evident that the Irish team will still be feeling hurt by Grealish’s decision to switch allegiances to play for England.  

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