For most soccer players, there is no greater honor than to represent one’s country on the international stage. It is not only an acknowledgment of a player’s on-pitch prowess but also a gentle nod from one’s fellow countrymen that they have been found worthy out of the multitude of players that could have been chosen – worthy to not only don their national colors and be their soccer ambassadors to the rest of the world but also join the exclusive list of players who went before them. As the birthplace of soccer, the honor is particularly special for players called up to the England national football team.
When did Jack Grealish make his debut for England? Jack Grealish made his debut for England as a substitute in a UEFA Nations League clash against Denmark on 8 September 2020. The match ended in a goalless draw with Grealish coming on in the 76th minute. Jack Grealish was 24 years and 11 months old when he made his full England debut.
Most pundits argue that great soccer players show great promise from a tender age. Jack Grealish was no different as he took after his great-great-grandfather and Aston Villa great Bill Garraty by joining the club at only six years old.
At the club, Grealish diligently honed his skills for the next decade before having his first encounter with top-flight football at 16 as an unused substitute in a 4-2 loss to English Premier League (EPL) rivals Chelsea in late March 2012.
Looking to secure more playing time and experience, Grealish embraced a move to former League One side Notts County in mid-September 2013, making his professional debut in an away loss to bitter rivals Milton Keynes Dons.
His consistent performances over the following matches prompted Notts County to extend what was initially a four-month-long loan to the end of the season, with Grealish registering five goals and seven assists in 38 appearances for the Magpies.
After proving himself at Notts County, Grealish returned to Aston Villa where he made his debut as a substitute for former teammate and current Leicester City left-back Ryan Bertrand in a horrendous 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Arsenal.
In September 2014, the Lions handed Grealish a four-year extension to remain at the club and gradually increased his playing time. His first start at Villa was in a 1-0 FA Cup home victory against current Championship side Blackpool with his first start in the Premier League coming in a commendable effort the following April in a 3-3 draw against Queens Park Rangers.
The 2014-15 Aston Villa Young Player of the Season’s breakout moment came in an FA Cup semi-final fixture against Liverpool where he provided the assist for the winner only to later lose the FA Cup final 4-0 to Arsenal.
Grealish’s time in the EPL was cut short after Villa finished bottom of the standings in their 2015-16 campaign. The 2019-20 Aston Villa Player of the Season had a chance to remain in the top flight after attracting great interest from Leeds United who wanted to take the talisman on loan but Villa opposed the move.
Folly of Youth
Grealish has had his fair share of run-ins with the law on account of ill-advised behavior on and off the pitch. In early March 2015, Grealish was sent off for diving in a 2-0 victory over top-tier side West Bromwich Albion.
His off-pitch antics were far more serious and almost sabotaged his budding career on more than one occasion. The midfield maestro attracted the wrath of Villa chief Tim Sherwood after images of him allegedly using nitrous oxide recreationally were leaked by a popular tabloid.
Even after being publicly reprimanded by Sherwood, Grealish continued in his childishly superfluous ways and was demoted by Sherwood’s successor to train with Villa’s under-21 squad after choosing to go partying after a debilitating 4-0 loss to Everton that November.
In September 2016, Grealish’s bad habits resurfaced after he was rumored to have been at a party at an undisclosed Birmingham hotel which had to be dispersed by the police. His lowest point came the following month after he was handed a three-game suspension for violent conduct. The shameful incident appears to have been a turning point for the Grealish as he has been a model player and citizen since.
Move to City
After three seasons in the Championship, Villa fought their way back into the EPL ahead of their 2019-20 season only to have play suspended to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
Grealish had a great season and even set the record for the most fouls won in a single EPL season with 167. He also garnered a reputation as a reliable goalscorer after leading Villa with 10 goals across all competitions, with eight of those being Premier League goals.
In what is one of the best performances of his career, Grealish scored a brace and assisted another three goals in a 7-2 victory over then-defending EPL champions Liverpool. Many pundits believe that that spectacular performance is one of the factors that convinced then-five-time EPL winners Manchester City to trigger Grealish’s £100 million to the club.
City appeared to have set their sights on Grealish for a while since they deemed him worthy to inherit the number 10 shirt that belonged to the clubs all-time leading top scorer Sergio Aguero. City was not mistaken as Grealish has been an integral part of their squad and greatly contributed to their success in their 2021-22 campaign which saw them win their sixth EPL title.
Representing England at an international level was not always an obvious choice for Grealish on account of his Irish roots from both his paternal and maternal grandfathers’ sides. Grealish had even made 19 total appearances and scored six goals for Ireland’s youth side before declaring his interest to play for England.
He received his first-ever call-up to play for England’s under-21 side and made his debut in a 1-0 victory over Portugal in mid-May 2016. Grealish made seven appearances for the youth side, scoring two goals in the process.
His long-awaited call-up to the Three Lions senior squad came in late August 2020. Grealish has since been a super substitute providing the creative spark that England has needed off the bench. He has since been capped 24 times for England and scored one goal – a picturesque strike in a 5-0 World Cup Qualifier Group Stage triumph over Andorra on 9 October 2021.