Friday 30 September 2016

Comment: Daily Mail Jack Grealish rant an insult to all second generation Irish

Jack Grealish is entitled to have a choice on who he represents

Published 22/04/2015 | 14:31

Jack Grealish was outstanding for Aston Villa against Liverpool on Sunday
Jack Grealish was outstanding for Aston Villa against Liverpool on Sunday

I only knew him as Sean. For the life of me, the name of his sidekick and buddy escapes me but what I do remember fondly was their love for football, a few beers and Ireland.

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It was in my early days of following the Irish soccer team all over Europe and it was Amsterdam in 2000 when I first clinked glasses with the pair before Ireland’s 2-2 draw with the Dutch.

At the time, as a rookie Ireland fan, their striking English accents had me somewhat bemused. Two born and bred Englishmen and Coventry City season tickets holders were regaling their stories about following Ireland all over the world to me, a born and bred Dub.

As I would find out pretty quickly, Sean and his mate were not a unique duo. It started in Amsterdam and was confirmed in the stadiums and bars of Moscow, Basle, the glorious port of Budva in Montenegro and Slovakia just to name a few. They were everywhere and waved their tricolours and sang with pride.

Jack Grealish has represented Ireland at underage level
Jack Grealish has represented Ireland at underage level

Second generation Ireland fans form a huge core of the diehard Irish support.

Read more: English journalist calls for granny rule to be abolished after Jack Grealish saga, is he right?

According to one scribe in The Daily Mail, the granny rule should be ripped up and Jack Grealish should play for England, the land of his birth.

Maybe Sean and his mate will have to rip up their Irish passports and erase any memory of Ireland from their minds.

That’s right, Martin Samuel wants to take the choice away from players and force them into playing for a country they may not want to play for, never mind force them to abandon all their heritage and family history. If you are born in England, you play for England even if you feel you are not English, Samuel argues - unless you are an average player like Andy Townsend. Bizarre.

Somebody better tell Raheem Sterling not to read Samuel’s gibberish. Did the same writer have anything to say when John Barnes or Owen Hargreaves playing for the Three Lions? We better hope he doesn’t have an opinion on the English rugby or cricket teams.

If Jack Grealish wants to play for England, then he will play for England. If Jack Grealish wants to play for Ireland, then he will play for Ireland.

Surely having the choice to do something is a basic human right and if the teenager feels Irish, well then it is his choice to play for Ireland.

Not only is Samuel’s rant insulting to all second generation Irish, it is littered with inaccuracies and there is also a pop at Irish scout Mark O’Toole.

“His job it is to sweep up the best young players qualified to play for Ireland. That's not the same as sweeping up the best young Irish players,” writes Samuel.

Ireland International Jack Gealish, winner of the Republic of Ireland U21 player of the year award, with his girlfriend Sasha Attwood, his parents, Kevin and Karen, and grandmother Margret Grealish at the 3 FAI International Football Awards. RTE Studios, Donnybrook, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Ireland International Jack Gealish, winner of the Republic of Ireland U21 player of the year award, with his girlfriend Sasha Attwood, his parents, Kevin and Karen, and grandmother Margret Grealish at the 3 FAI International Football Awards. RTE Studios, Donnybrook, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Read more: Irish fans react to Daily Mail story calling on granny rule to go after Jack Grealish saga

O’Toole is employed as a link between players who qualify to play for Ireland, their parents and the FAI. More often than not, parents will approach the scout and he will get the ball rolling, a liaison between the player and the FAI. He is far from some sort of predator Samuel makes him out to be and it’s quite obvious that he is doing a damn fine job.

Thanks to the likes of O’Toole, the Irish diaspora in England have a stepping stone to fulfilling their dream of playing for Ireland.

Samuel also writes that “the rules were intended to help those without a choice — unable to play for their country of birth, but good enough to represent that of their ancestors.”

Really?

Maybe Samuel is privy to information the rest of us are not, but I would be under the assumption that the rule is there for, eh, second generation players who have strong connections to their father/mother/granddad/granny’s country?

Samuel reckons that “not many people had seen Jack Grealish play before Sunday, so even fewer had heard him speak.”

Again, really?

Mark O’Toole has certainly seen him play as have representatives of the Football Association of Ireland and regular fans of the Irish underage teams and in this particular instance, Ireland’s underage scouting system has trumped England’s.

Funny how the toys come out of the pram once Grealish produces the magic on the big stage and credit to O’Toole and the FAI for recognising this talent five years before our British counterparts.

The bottom line here is this: Jack Grealish can still play for Ireland and England and he will choose the country he feels most aligned to. If that is England, then the best of luck to him.

Can this Samuel gem be beaten when referring to Adnan Januzaj?

“Better to have allowed the player to decide rather than make a sales pitch.”

Finally, he gets it. It’s the player’s decision.

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