Saturday 25 February 2017

Five reasons why Jack Grealish will choose Ireland

Ger Keville

Ger Keville

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

The FAI and the English FA are involved in a tug-of-war over Aston Villa star Jack Grealish. Here are five reasons why the teenager will choose Ireland.

He played in Croke Park – and scored a point.

Surely playing on the hallowed turf in Croke Park means that Grealish is destined to don the green jersey?

Grealish pulled on the Warwickshire GAA jersey in 2009 to play at half-time during Dublin’s All Ireland quarter final clash with Kerry at Croke Park – and he loved every minute of it.

"I got a point for Warwickshire when we got to play in Croke Park a while back," said Grealish at the time.

"I loved GAA, I played from when I was eight up to 14. We had won a tournament over in England so we got invited over to play in Croke Park, it was at half-time during a senior game. I can't remember who was in the senior game but I know I scored a point and my dad was delighted with that."

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There were three generations of the Grealish family at the recent FAI international awards ceremony

Grealish seemed to make a big deal out of the recent FAI international awards ceremony.

The Villa youngster was there to pick up the U-21 prize. It’s not uncommon for players to miss the event but Grealish turned up with his parents Kevin and Karen and Kerry grandmother Margaret.

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He said he was looking forward to coming back and playing for Ireland

Ok, sometimes players quotes are taken out of context or misinterpreted.

Grealish had just proudly picked up his U-21 Player of the Year award and took his place alongside RTE’s Tony O’Donoghue on the stage.

He spoke of how proud he was to have won the ward before declaring that he was looking forward to "coming back to play international football for......"

That’s where Tony cut Jack short and a bit of a debate raged for Ireland fans in the following days.

After the awards ceremony,  Grealish did tell the FAI’s Stephen Finn that he was looking forward to returning to play international football for Ireland. Whether he meant at underage level or competitively for the senior team, which would cement his future with Ireland, is the big question.

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He is an Ireland player and has never played for England

Grealish’s international career to date has been saturated in green with caps from U-15 level all the way to U-21 when he picked up the Player of the Year award.

Irish underage squads are known to have a friendly, homely feel to them with a vibrant atmosphere.

England, on the other hand, are more known for churning out a higher amount of players (they do have more players at the end of the day), adopting a football factory-like strategy.

Grealish has enjoyed his time in the green jersey and it would take a lot for someone to come in this late and change that.

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The Roy Keane factor

With his socks pulled down and a mop of hair that would make Peter Andre jealous, you would think that Roy Keane is not the biggest Jack Grealish fan.

But a fan he is and it is believed the pair had a good working relationship during their time together at Aston Villa.

"He is a really good player - I think he is playing for the Under-21s tomorrow night and he will have a decision to make when he is ready,” said Keane recently.

"But obviously, we are not putting him under pressure. We would love to have him on board - he is a really, really good player.”

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