Close sidebar

The Jack Grealish Conundrum

It’s the debate that no matter how hard you try, it simply will not go away. Should Jack Grealish play for the Republic of Ireland or England?

Grealish is an English-born youngster, who has played all his underage football for Ireland. The Aston Villa teenager was struggling to break into the first team team and therefore looked set to confirm his attention to play for the Boys in Green at senior level, but that has been thrown into huge doubt with Tim Sherwood recently becoming manager of the Birmingham club.

Before Sherwood took over at Aston Villa, Grealish was not only getting next to no game time but he was far from the realms of England selection. Understandably, every time the debate for him to become an Irish international comes up, he is hesitant to make the big step.

Let’s not forget Grealish is a mere nineteen years of age; whatever decision he makes is a life-changing one and there will not be any turning back after it’s made. One advantage that the young midfielder has is that time is on his side and a decision should not be rushed on his behalf.

Although recently breaking into the Villa team, it was last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final victory over Liverpool at Wembley that has really thrown him into the limelight of the English media.

Apart from setting up both of the Villans’ goals, Grealish, along with Fabian Delph, were the stars of the show in outplaying a Liverpool midfield that included the iconic Steven Gerrard. A lot of people knew he was good but what he showed at Wembley is that he has the temperament for the big occasion.

Ireland are becoming experts at claiming talents who may not have been born in the Republic. Examples include James McCLean, Marc Wilson, Darron Gibson, Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy, all of whom have had their own controversies with regards to international eligibility.

It brings to focus a much more important question, why aren’t we producing enough top quality players of our own? If there is a country that has seen the full benefit of the ‘granny rule,’ it’s definitely us. The sad truth is Ireland are just not producing anywhere near as many players as they were in the past. The fact that there are no Irish Players playing in the top six teams in the premier league is testament to that.

Back to the Grealish argument, and you can’t help but feel that Ireland may just have missed the boat on this one. The longer this decision takes, the more likely Grealish is going to be swayed by his nation of birth.

If Grealish continues his meteoric rise through to the end of the season, you can envision the English media being all over him like a rash. A similar instance to the way they were banging on about Harry Kane being called up could conceivably happen. Coincidentally, Kane was also eligible to play for the Republic, until recently playing for England.

Whatever about his senior ambitions, Jack Grealish’s underage international career makes for interesting reading:

  • Grealish was called up to an England under-15 training camp but was sent home after falling ill. Since then he has represented the Republic of Ireland, first being called up at the age of 14.
  • England are known to have been pursuing him, even naming him in their under-17 Squad in 2011 at the age of 15; an invitation he declined.
  • After being left out the Ireland under-19 team for three qualifiers in October 2012, the FA made an approach for him to switch. Ireland under-21 manager Noel King revealed in May 2013 that the 17-year-old was pondering a switch to England, so he was not considered for a friendly against Denmark, although King later stepped in to assure Grealish and his family that he was a part of his plans.
  • He made his under-21 debut for Ireland as a late substitute against the Faroe Islands in August 2013. In 2013, Grealish reaffirmed his desire to continue representing Ireland.
  • Grealish was awarded the Under-21 Player of the Year by the FAI in March, 2015, when he announced that he had taken a break from youth internationals over the past year to focus on breaking into the Aston Villa first team and that he expected to be back playing for Ireland in the near future.

The road has been rocky thus far for the young prodigy but the worst of the lot may just be on the horizon. Ireland and England are due to play an end-of-season friendly in June at the Aviva Stadium. Whatever your views on this situation are, the one thing that we don’t need is the youngster being called up by England for that game.

It would make the atmosphere even more toxic than it would have been. No matter how well the kid plays for the rest of the season, common sense needs to prevail on this one.

The conclusion to this story is coming down the tracks and whatever way it goes, we get the feeling we will see Jack Grealish playing international football for a long time. Whether that’s in White or Green is irrelevant.

The fact that Grealish was born in England, both his parents are English, and the fact he probably grew up dreaming of playing for England is likely to sway his decision.

The ball now seems to be very much in Jack Grealish’s court.

Robert Cribbin, Pundit Arena 

Sign Up For The LOI Arena Newsletter

Read More About: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.