The long-running saga drew to a conclusion today. White smoke emerged in the form of a tweet from Aston Villa early this afternoon, informing us that Jack Grealish was switching his allegiance back to the country of his birth.
Following the announcement, we spoke to one English-born Irish player, Liam George, the man who was instrumental in Ireland winning the U18 European Championships in 1998.
Last year, George was very critical of the FAI's decision to pursue Mark Noble, a player who was patently ambivalent about declaring for Ireland.
If I'm going to be completely honest I think its a disgrace. Here is a guy that's played for England all his life, he's got caps at U-21, he's played 20 times. Played all the way through. No affiliation to Ireland whatsoever. I just think its cheating an Irish lad who's got a passion for his country and wants to play to represent his country.
If you said to me, you'll get to the Euros with these types of players in place, or not get to the Euros without them, I'd rather not go.
Despite his previous hostility to Ireland chasing after unwilling targets, George said his initial reaction to Grealish declaring for England was one of 'disappointment'.
I think my first reaction was disappointment. I think we've missed out on a very good footballer. He's very confident at the moment. He's doing very good things in the Premier League. He's building a very big reputation for himself. So, I've felt we've missed out on a very good player who could only improve our squad.
However, George ultimately sticks to his belief that Ireland should stick with players who are certain they want to play for the country. He accepts that young lads can 'be torn' if they have parents of two nationalities, but said the whole affair had dragged on so long, it had left a sour taste.
Initially, I was gutted but on reflection, I think it's better for Ireland that we won't have players in and around the squad and in and around the team, so although, short-term, everyone's going to be disappointed, long-term, I'm not too disappointed at all.
I've only ever wanted someone to pull on an Irish shirt that felt Irish, that felt like I belonged, that felt like they were going out there for a cause and if it doesn't, then, hey, we'll find someone else. He might be as good as him and he might not but if someone's prepared to run through a brick wall then I'd much rather be on a losing side than a side full of prima donnas who are sooner or later going to let you down.
Grealish's agent has previously made comments lamenting the decision of another client, let's him call him G. Bale, who opted to play international football for the country of his birth rather than England. Today, Luke Edwards of the Daily Telegraph tweeted that he had been 'reliably informed' that Grealish had chosen to play for England because it 'made more commercial sense' to do so. What does George make of such remarks.
They're a brand now. There's far more commercial interests. I believe that Wayne Rooney being England captain makes him an additional million pound a year... It's a business and all these big companies will want a piece of you so we were all a bit stupid for thinking that that wasn't involved.
George admitted that he saw Grealish taking flak for playing for Ireland at underage level and switching allegiance at senior level.
You've played for Ireland at every level and when the money's come knocking, you've abandoned the team. I think he's going to find it ridiculously difficult to stay in the England team unless he goes to a very fashionable club and plays every week. The England squad have got loads of players in that position at bigger clubs. I think they're going to be very cynical and they pick him for the next international and they play him for five minutes. And that's it, It's over. I hope for the lad that it turns out that way. I hope he goes on to have a very successful career. But hindsight is a wonderful thing and it might come back and haunt the young lad.
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