After months of deliberation, teenage Aston Villa sensation Jack Grealish has pledged his allegiance to representing England instead of the Republic of Ireland in a decision which will delight England manager Roy Hodgson.
Despite being born in Birmingham, Grealish is eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland due to his grandparents, and after representing the country at under 21 level, the youngster has now decided that the best option for him is to represent the country where he has lived all of his life.
“It was not an easy decision as Ireland has a special place with me through my family. But I have decided to represent the country of my birth,” Grealish said in a statement.
With a European Championships next summer in France, England manager Roy Hodgson will no doubt be delighted that one of the hottest young properties in English football has opted to play for the country much to the annoyance of Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neil.
After stating last season that he needed some time to decide who he will play for, O’Neil criticised Hodgson for trying to influence his decision at the start of September with Hodgson saying “I’m not 100% certain of what he is waiting for.” The Irish boss saw the comment as having an ominous feel about it, but remained adamant that Grealish should take all the time he needs in order to make the correct decision.
With the decision to represent England now made, the Ireland manager will certainly feel hard done by, especially given Grealish’s history of representing Ireland at youth level. O’Neil always remained optimistic that Grealish would choose to carry on that trend of representing Ireland at senior level and it is no doubt he would have been guaranteed playing time and a bright future within the squad.
However, with the decision now done and dusted, Roy Hodgson will be looking forward to putting the 20-year-old Aston Villa midfielder to the test, especially now that England have already qualified for the European Championships next summer. Due to the early qualification, it is widely expected that Grealish will be included in the next squad for October’s qualifying matches against Estonia and Lithuania.