Daniel O’Reilly’s admission about former Irish teammate, Jack Grealish.
Few former underage internationals can say they’ve had a current England player as an Irish teammate but Daniel O’Reilly is one of the few who shared the pitch with Jack Grealish in a green jersey.
O’Reilly, now playing in the League of Ireland with Drogheda United, was an international teammate of Grealish for Ireland at Under-19 level.
And in this week’s LOI Arena, O’Reilly spoke about what it was like playing with the now Man City forward for the Boys in Green at underage level.
Daniel O’Reilly on Jack Grealish for Ireland.
“He was the exact same as he is now,” O’Reilly explained. “The exact same player, but better. He was fouled all the time and he used to win some amount of penalties.
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“He was cheeky, and also really good. Being honest, I never thought he was going to play for Man City or be a 100 million signing. You could always see he had an unbelievable talent and he could just drift by players.
“He was never quick – and I wouldn’t say he’s that quick now – but with the ball he was frightening. His awareness, it’s like he just waits for a player to commit and then he just skips by them.”
Daniel O’Reilly opens up on his time in England.
Now 26, O’Reilly moved over to the UK when he was 16 to sign for then Premier League side Fulham. And while he did not make a single appearance for the Cottagers at first-team level, he did, in fact learn a lot from his experience there.
With debates now irrelevant about whether or not Irish players should join English clubs at 16, the Kildare native believes that his decision to move over when he was a teenager was the correct one.
“I’ve always said that, for me, at that time, it was the right decision,” he explained. “It’s every boy’s dream to go across to England and try make it as a professional. I wouldn’t say no, but others might have different opinions.
“Obviously, I didn’t stay over there as long as I planned, or wanted to, but you need a bit of luck. It just didn’t happen for me. As a player, you’re always going to improve but as a person it brought me on.
“It gave me a good life experience because when I came home at 19 I learned a lot that kids my age wouldn’t have.
“Looking at it now, as an older player, it might look like a better decision to go over at 18/19 because it’s more common for players to do well then.”