Jack Grealish says he 'never looked back' after ditching Ireland to represent England

Jack Grealish says he 'never looked back' after ditching Ireland to represent England

JACK GREALISH has admitted that he has "never looked back" once he switched international allegiances from Ireland to England.

The Aston Villa midfielder, who heads into Euro 2020 as one of Gareth Southgate's most valued assets, represented the Republic of Ireland at youth level, before controversially opting to play for England instead in 2015.

His decision sparked a fierce backlash in Ireland from supporters who felt betrayed, particularly as the Birmingham-born youngster, who had won 19 caps across three different Irish youth sides, had turned down the opportunity to play for Ireland's senior side a few months earlier.

Grealish didn't earn an England call up until 2020, but six years on, the 25-year-old says he has no regrets about turning Ireland down.

"As I got older, I started playing obviously at Villa, in the first-team, I broke through. And there was a time when I thought: 'Obviously I am English, my parents were born in England, I was obviously born in England, so I feel English'," he said.

"So yes, I obviously changed to England and since then I have never looked back.

"I've enjoyed every moment that I've had here. And I wouldn't be here today if I didn't."

Grealish was born and raised in Birmingham, but qualified to play for Ireland through his grandparents, three of whom are Irish.

Jack Grealish features for England against the Republic of Ireland in November 2020.

The Villa captain recounted a story of how and why he initially chose Ireland instead of England in 2011.

"When I was young, I got asked to play for England and Ireland at a tournament," he explained.

"I got asked to play for both, I went away to play for England, I was in my room and I collapsed, the day before we were meant to be training and I got sent home.

"I was just in the bathroom and I woke up on the floor. I don't know what happened, I don't know if it was nerves or whatever, I'm not actually too sure, but the next day I was obviously fine, ready to go and train, but obviously for medical reasons I couldn't.

"Then during that time I went to Ireland to trial there and I played and I just loved it. That's one thing that I've always said, when you're younger you just do what makes you happy. And I loved every moment that I had there.

"I was just a young kid enjoying my football."