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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 19 December, 2018

'I felt more English than Irish' - Jack Grealish explains allegiance switch

The midfielder says that he was not expecting his decision to play for England instead of Ireland to be so big.

JACK GREALISH SAYS that he opted to switch from the Republic of Ireland to England because he “felt more English than Irish”.

The Aston Villa midfielder caused quite a stir in September 2015 when he pledged his international future to the Three Lions after representing the Boys in Green at all youth levels, which included six Under-21 appearances.

The 20-year-old, whose grandparents hail from Kerry, Dublin and Galway, said at the time that it was a difficult decision for him “as Ireland has a special place with me through my family”.

And he has since revealed that he was not expecting “so much abuse from Ireland fans” about his decision, claiming that he was still on the receiving end during Euro 2016.

“It was a big decision and wasn’t easy for me,” Grealish said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. “I thought about it for a long time, spoke with my family and my agent, but in the end it came from me.

“I didn’t think it was going to be so big, I didn’t expect so much abuse from Ireland fans. I was still getting it during the Euros.

“But for my career I think if I fulfil my ability I feel I can play for England in years to come. I was born here, as were my parents, so I felt more English than Irish.”

Despite announcing his declsion in September, Grealish did not make his first appearance for England until May 2016, when he played for the U-21 team at the Toulon Tournament in France, scoring two goals.

Jack Grealish with Marko Bakic Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

And he is now targeting more international recognition with the country of his birth.

“I played for England at the Toulon Tournament and that was a great experience,” added the 2015 FAI Under-21 Player of the Year.

“I didn’t really have a winning feeling last season so to play four of the five games, and score twice, ended it on a good note.

“A cap for the under-21s is the next target. There’s a qualifier in September and I want to try and be involved in that.”

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