Wayne Rooney: I never even considered playing for Ireland
Wayne Rooney insists he never considered playing for the Republic of Ireland and he does not think Jack Grealish should do so either.
On the eve of England's friendly in Dublin, Rooney was at pains to emphasise there will be no case of divided loyalties when he leads the Three Lions out at the Aviva Stadium.
Rooney's paternal grandparents are Irish and his wife Coleen, whose maiden name was McLoughlin, is also of Irish descent.
The couple's first son Kai embraced his Irish roots by donning a full Republic of Ireland kit on St Patrick's Day three years ago, but there is no mistaking where his father's loyalties lie.
For that reason, the England captain will have no problem putting Martin O'Neill's team to the sword on Sunday afternoon.
"I am English through and through and I have no issue with trying to beat Ireland," the England striker said.
"I am playing for England and I want to help England win."
Rooney had the option to play for the Republic through his grandparents, but he insists the possibility never crossed his mind - not even when the Football Association of Ireland made a beeline for him when he was a 16-year-old.
On the eve of Sunday's friendly in Dublin, Rooney recalled the tale of when Lee Carsley, then his team-mate at Everton, tried to persuade him to turn his back on England.
It would be fair to say that Rooney did not give the offer much consideration.
"Lee Carsley asked me (on behalf of Republic boss Mick McCarthy) about it and it never crossed my mind," he said.
"I have Irish grandparents, so if they wanted to play for Ireland I'm sure they could have, but it was never something I thought about.
"I was born in England, I'm English."
Rooney thinks that mantra should apply to Grealish too.
The Aston Villa midfielder has played for the Republic at Under-17, Under-18 and Under-21 level, but turned out for England before that, according to Roy Hodgson.
The fact that the 19-year-old was born in Solihull in the West Midlands means he should play for England in Rooney's mind.
The England captain said: "It's down to him, really. I'm a firm believer that the country you are born in is who you should play for, but the rules are the rules.
"It's down to him to make the decision, and better sooner than later."
Grealish has enjoyed a breakthrough year at Villa under Tim Sherwood.
The 19-year-old, who qualifies for the Republic through a grandfather who hails from County Dublin, starred in Villa's FA Cup semi-final win over Liverpool and has been tipped as a potential future star.
Grealish rejected the opportunity to join up with the Republic seniors for this friendly against England and Hodgson decided against calling up the midfielder as he was aware it could provoke a backlash from the Irish crowd against the youngster.
Hodgson revealed on Saturday that the player had asked for talks with the Football Association about his future.
"I believe that there have been discussions," the England manager said.
"I think Jack Grealish initiated some discussions with the FA. They were not initiated by me. I haven't spoken to him.
"He's still a young player with a very bright future either for England or Ireland, and he should make up his mind.
"Under the rules he can play for either country, so he has the choice. I'm sure that he and his family and representatives will make the decision which suits him and we won't put pressure on him, other than to say we'd be happy to have him in our ranks.
"He's a good player, but it's for him to decide where his loyalty lies."
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