One of Mick McCarthy’s first tasks upon his return to the Republic of Ireland was to try to convince Jack Grealish to commit his international future to Ireland.
Despite Jack Grealish making it clear five years ago that he’d decided to aim to break into the England team, Mick McCarthy made one last-ditch attempt to get the Aston Villa playmaker into his Irish side.
Grealish’s father, Kevin, has revealed that McCarthy approached them when they crossed paths at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards in December 2018.
“Mick had just returned to the Ireland job and we got talking at the awards through a mutual friend,” Kevin Grealish told the Irish Examiner.
“Mick asked if Jack would be interested in playing for Ireland, saying he could see him easily winning 40 caps.
“I said thanks for the offer but it was too late by that stage. Jack has made his decision and there was no way he was going jumping back and forth.”
Grealish represented Ireland at underage level and was eligible to declare for the senior team under the grandparent rule but his heart was always set on England.
It wasn’t until September of this year, however, that Grealish finally made his senior debut for England when he came on for Kalvin Phillips against Denmark.
The 25-year-old will come up against some familiar faces from his underage days in the green of Ireland when Stephen Kenny’s side travel to Wembley for a friendly with England on Thursday night.
Much has been made of the Grealish and Declan Rice sagas ahead of the game but Republic of Ireland captain Seamus Coleman has dismissed suggestions that it will play on the minds of any of his Irish teammates come kick-off.