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Opinion: Can Jack Grealish Be A Future Star For Ireland?

Opinion: Can Jack Grealish Be A Future Star For Ireland?
By Balls Team
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Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

After scoring his first senior goal at the weekend, Notts County loanee and Irish U21 star Jack Grealish is being tipped for a bright future. Just how good can the Aston Villa player become? Stuart Brothers of the Black and White Fanzine gives his opinion on a young man who is still learning...

It was with a fair amount of trepidation that I accepted an invitation from balls.ie asking me if I could compose my thoughts on Notts County’s latest loan starlet, Jack Grealish. You see just last week, my colleague of sorts Jacob Daniel aired his own views on this particular player and found his efforts rubbished, like a fan of Notts County wouldn’t be able to recognise a quality player if they ever saw one. Oblivious, I imagine, that as Notts fans, we’ve seen this lad in the deep end more than the odd Aston Villa forum-dwelling troll.

I acknowledge this isn’t the start you might have been hoping for, but things do get better.

Now it's not that I'm not a fan of Jack’s, it’s more that in a club of our position (bottom of SkyBet League One), patience is hard to come by – and that for me is certainly what a player like him needs. His decision making can often at times infuriate, yet he appears weekly to be given a free pass by many for his shortcomings based on how good he may turn out in future. I have little doubt that the older he gets, the wiser a player he’ll become when it comes to picking and playing the right pass. But where we are, fighting for our lives, we can scarcely afford such luxuries and I’m not sure his development is best suited to a relegation dogfight such as ours. Some will of course say all experience is good experience and that it may stand him in good stead as he grows up in the game. I disagree.

This is a player who needs to find his feet at senior level before getting himself bogged down in the lower reaches of the third tier of English football in my humble opinion.

Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

When he first came in to the team he was one of only two players to be trying to drag his team mates through games, alongside another loanee, Celtic’s Callum McGregor. These two young lads looked the only ones capable of injecting any kind of spark into the worst start in our club’s history. In my book, you honestly can’t give them enough credit in that respect. It was a turgid Tuesday evening back in September that stands out the most for me, Jack’s first full start with us. We were decimated 5-1 with only those two players not having thrown in the towel long before even half time. Leyton Orient’s gaffer Russell Slade was quick to highlight Grealish as being the one carrying the greater threat to his side throughout – a depressing, sobering assessment given the wealth of experience our squad carries.

His first goal

Having seen him net his first goal in senior football this past Saturday, I genuinely couldn't have been happier for him. But I couldn't go about trying to convince people it’s been a long time coming – it’s hard, off the top of my head, to remember many opportunities where he’s tested a goalkeeper. The moment he picked up the ball up, the cries from the Meadow Lane Kop behind the goal were for him to shoot. Personally this was the last thing in the world I wanted. However, on this rare occasion where he wouldn't look up and errantly smash the ball into the nearest attending defender, something magical happened. Evading, some admittedly woeful, attempts at a challenge, his run into the box and fierce strike down the throat of visiting Gillingham goalkeeper Stuart Nelson put the seal on a first win for new manager Shaun Derry. The relief that this one goal brought with minutes to spare was enormous, a truly great moment in a season of insufferable lows thus far.



Jack made a beeline for the front row of our main stand to celebrate the goal – his first in professional football – in the arms of his father. Can you really blame him? The day’s match official of course playing to the letter of the law saw fit to book Jack for his actions. Don’t you just love humanity?

The goal was breathtaking, not in-keeping at all with his form of recent weeks where a fair number of detractors (myself included) have made their feelings known regarding his shortcomings. But if he can feed off this moment, It’s a fairly safe bet that these last few weeks with him at Notts County could really be a joy to watch.

His temperament

Image: Jack Grealish

I would question Jack’s temperament just a touch. On a few occasions he’s become embroiled in Twitter spats with both rival fans and our own. I myself found myself blocked for having the temerity to try and exchange jokes with him when he tweeted how he hated getting old. But again, he is young, and chances are that you or I would also react in a similar fashion in the position he is in. His reaction to the article written about him just last week however was a refreshing one – that one person’s opinion of him does not make it factual. And I genuinely hope that is how he views articles such as this, because certainly no one is out to assassinate his career like so many of those replying to him might suggest. At Notts County, we've watched Thomas Ince at Blackpool excel since his spell on loan here a few years back, and it would be with the same amount of pride that we’d like to see Jack’s career progress.

His future

This boy’s career honestly could go either way at this juncture. I wouldn't doubt for a second that he could flourish at a club better than our own – particularly given we're in a division where the best defence against him appears to be to hack him down at any given opportunity. With that said, and all County-allegiances aside, I do genuinely believe seeing the season out at this level (unlikely as it may be) would do him the world of good going forward. He’s of course already making a name for himself on the international scene with his country’s under-21 side as the youngest member of it’s squad, netting just recently. With another three years left at the very least competing at such a level, it’s not hard to picture him overtaking Robbie Brady as the u21’s top goalscorer given his attacking potential.

Stuart Brothers


Issue 7 of Black & White fanzine out now – full details available at thenottsblog.co.uk

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