Thursday 27 October 2016

Comment: Jack Grealish paying a heavy price for choosing England over Ireland

Published 07/04/2016 | 08:22

A dejected Jack Grealish of Aston Villa leaves the pitch after the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Chelsea last weekend
A dejected Jack Grealish of Aston Villa leaves the pitch after the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Chelsea last weekend

SO Jack, how does it feel to be all washed up at the ripe old age of 20, with a bigger reputation as a party-animal than a footballer, just a year after you were hailed as the next big thing?

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Any regrets about the choice you made or was that just a symptom of the low level of common sense which seems to be part of your make-up?

Here’s a few thoughts. If you had picked Ireland, there’s a good chance you would be now gearing up for a summer at the biggest tournament on the planet this year.

If you had picked Ireland, it might have impacted on your marketing potential, the single aspect of the entire England v Ireland custody battle which appears to have governed your decision. You would have been given a chance to shine and to become a hero for an entire nation.

Chances are, you would have earned plenty, more than enough. Robbie Keane has generated an enormous amount of money in wages, transfers and all the other opportunities that are available to a global name in football.

He will be a wealthy man for the rest of his life and is guaranteed a place of affection and respect in the hearts of all Irish football fans.

Poor Jack is back in the Aston Villa Under 21s, impressing fans a few nights ago in a game against West Brom but clearly not manager Remi Garde before he got the bullet.


As is always the way, Villa fans have forgotten the fact that their best young prospect has been acting the fool and now want him restored to the first team.

Fan memory is the shortest in the universe. Pragmatism wins over principle almost every time but the Villa faithful should take a good look at Grealish now because he won’t be with them for long.

Grealish believes he is a top Premier League player and when his agent suggests, as he undoubtedly will, that the kid needs to move on to further his career, he won’t feel much resistance. The one redeeming feature Grealish has displayed is his connection with Villa fans and his clear love for the club.

But once the fixers and the percentage men get to you, it’s hard to shake them off and if they were able to convince Grealish to change his nationality, or at least his initial indication of nationality, it shouldn’t be too hard to convince him to leave the club he has worshipped since he was a child.

Would it make any difference? There’s a good chance it would. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that Villa Park is a dysfunctional place and has been like that since the day Martin O’Neill turned his back on Randy Lerner and walked.

Judging by Gabby Agbonlahor’s recent trip to Dubai, Grealish hasn’t been graced with good role models in between making his own headlines sucking out of a balloon and lying, apparently comatose, on a street in Tenerife.

A change to a different environment and a different regime might just be the only thing that will save his career.

But one thing is absolutely certain. Jack Grealish won’t be in France in June and it could be a long, long time before anyone ever mentions him again as a potential England cap.

Herald Sport

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