Jack Grealish’s journey from Solihull to superstardom, and on to the town’s first World Cup winner? - The Solihull Observer

Jack Grealish’s journey from Solihull to superstardom, and on to the town’s first World Cup winner?

Solihull Editorial 3rd May, 2022   0

Like last year’s postponed Euro 2020 tournament, this year’s World Cup in Qatar will be particularly special for the people of Solihull as they are likely to be represented in the England team by one of their very own, Jack Grealish. After 2018’s semi-final exit and the heartbreaking loss at the hands of Italy in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley, the Manchester City star and his teammates will be hoping England can go all the way this time. They have a good chance of doing so according to experts like those at Bet 365, who offer free bets that can be used to back the Three Lions via oddschecker, and many fans share this optimism. If Southgate’s team are to be successful in the winter tournament, Grealish is sure to play an important role, which would be something to make the whole town proud.

Solihull start, Villa beginnings

Jack Grealish was born on 10th September 1995 in Birmingham, before moving to Solihull as a toddler. He attended Our Lady of Compassion Roman Catholic Primary School and played for local club Highgate United before being spotted by Aston Villa at the age of six. He rose through the Villa ranks rapidly before being loaned to Notts County in League One a few days after his 18th birthday. The deal was only supposed to be for four months, but he performed well enough to convince them to extend it until the end of the season. Grealish scored five goals and assisted a further seven before returning to Villa to make his Premier League debut. The following season he helped his boyhood club reach the 2015 FA Cup Final, which they lost to Arsenal.

He started the following season in fine form, netting his first goal for Aston Villa in September 2015. However, that season would end in disappointment for Grealish and his club who suffered relegation from the Premier League after finishing at the bottom of the table.

Villa Promotion to Premier League star

Despite Villa’s relegation, Grealish was on an upward trajectory in his career, having cemented his status as one of the most talented young players in the country with his promising Premier League performances. He starred in the Championship although his club struggled in its quest to achieve promotion at the first opportunity. Many believe this was a blessing in disguise for the young prodigy as it enabled him to develop his talents away from the spotlight of the Premier League.

He was named club captain in March 2019 and led the club to promotion via the playoffs. Back in the country’s top division, Grealish played with swagger and confidence that endeared him to Villa fans. Despite being constantly fouled, he continued to demand the ball from his teammates and take on opposition players. He was named Aston Villa’s Player of the Season by his colleagues and fans after scoring 10 goals in all competitions. His impressive form that season was rewarded with a first call up to the England squad in August and he made his debut in a UEFA Nations League game against Denmark. During this time he also earned hero status among the local community for his charitable acts of kindness.

He moved to Manchester City in the summer of 2021 for a club-record fee, which also made him England’s most expensive player ever. He has struggled to replicate his Villa form so far at City, but players usually take time to get used to Pep Guardiola’s tactics and methods, so there is no cause for concern at this stage.

International tussle

Younger England fans will find it difficult to imagine Jack Grealish wearing any other international team’s kit, but older supporters will remember a time when his allegiance was up for debate. He has Irish grandparents on both his maternal and paternal sides, and even played Gaelic football in Birmingham as a child, competing against fellow Solihull-born footballer Aoife Mannion. This led to a call up to the Republic of Ireland under 17 team in 2011, which he followed up with appearances for the under 18, and under 21 sides. His form during 2015 led to interest from the English FA, resulting in Grealish turning down multiple call ups to the senior Ireland squad.

After declaring his intention to represent England, Grealish had to wait five years for his first call up as Villa’s spell in the second division meant other players leapfrogged him in the pecking order. England manager Gareth Southgate selected the attacking midfielder for Euro 2020 after

two impressive seasons in the Premier League and he further enhanced his reputation with impressive performances from the bench in England’s run to the final.

England World Cup chances

Under Gareth Southgate England has achieved its best results in international tournaments since the 1966 World Cup win. They reached the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup in Russia with simplified tactics that focused on defensive solidarity and taking full advantage of set pieces. After going ahead in the 5th minute England were eventually beaten in extra time, with fans and pundits citing the need for more players who can help the team keep possession in knockout matches.

This is one of the reasons Grealish was called up to the Euro 2020 squad and he certainly proved his worth at the tournament. Since then, he has become a valuable member of the squad, although there are very few certainties for the World Cup with so many talented players available for selection. He faces tough competition from the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Connor Gallagher, however, Grealish’s experience will be a significant plus for Gareth Southgate when it comes to picking his squad. Besides, the England manager has shown himself to be extremely loyal to players who have performed well for him, so most fans expect Grealish to make it. If he does, and England go all the way, the Solihull man will surely go down as one of the town’s greatest heroes.


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