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Daily Mail Let Rip At Granny Ruling Ireland Over Jack Grealish Situation

Daily Mail Let Rip At Granny Ruling Ireland Over Jack Grealish Situation
By Gary Reilly Updated

Ah the Daily Mail, the great bastion of social inclusion. Forever on their high horse about the perils of the unwelcome immigrant. That is until said immigrant lays the basis of a prominent football family.

Jack Grealish is smack bang in the eye of a storm right now, one that you could say is partly his causing but which has, in reality, been brewing long before he arrived on the scene. On one hand you have Ireland, the noisy neighbours who pick the scraps off the English table and on the other you have England, the home of the beautiful game who deign to allow their B team players to play for the old country.

That's one narrative spin on it anyway, one which the Daily Mail seem to be revelling in. Their chief football writer, Martin Samuel, has today penned an intriguing article regarding Ireland and the Grealish situation. Beginning in suitably jingoistic fashion, Samuel goes straight to crux of the matter.

Not many people had seen Jack Grealish play before Sunday, so even fewer had heard him speak. When he did, he sounded like Ozzy Osbourne. Not as broad maybe but he was, unmistakably, from Birmingham.

No denying that, Grealish was born in Birmingham. But hold on one second, it seems Samuel has forgot about the last great hope of English football, where was that Raheem Sterling chap born?

Why Kingston, Jamaica of course. But we digress. Samuel goes on to lament the international scene of the today and to be fair to him, he points out that "this is not about the player, then, but the process".

So let's look at the process through his eyes.

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The rules were intended to help those without a choice — unable to play for their country of birth, but good enough to represent that of their ancestors. Andy Townsend, born in Maidstone, wasn't regarded highly by those in charge of England but was considered good enough to play for Ireland 70 times, through his Irish grandmother. Good luck to him — England's loss was Ireland's gain.

But Grealish's situation isn't like that. The rules as applied in his case do not combat the absence of choice, they offer more choice, where none is necessary.

Well that's just completely ignoring the fact that FIFA's rules have much more relevance now than they did at any other time.

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Let's take Owen Hargreaves as an example. Canadian born, to English parents and matured in Germany. A product of a multicultural world. Who ultimately decided he was English. The rules as they stand take account of the fact that as borders come down, nationality is more and more a line in the sand.

And for the Daily Mail, you have to wonder where the line in the sand is drawn. Given the Mail's delight in all things British, at what point does another immigrant family become British, is it just when they produce a good footballer?

In the end, Grealish may well choose to play for England. It will be Irish football's loss but that's the way it is. We'll recover and move on but if a young man is conflicted about where his allegiances lie, it's hardly fair to try and tell him he doesn't have a choice.

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Finishing off his argument, Samuel goes back to poor old Andy Townsend by comparing how England didn't want him at the age to how Grealish is now viewed.

It is different for players like Grealish, who turned his back on England before he was old enough to sit a GCSE. This wasn't opportunity; it was opportunism. Unnecessary and wrong and all too predictably destined to end in this unsightly tug of war.

And yes, before we're accused of having our head in the sand, this is a serious problem for Irish football, there's no getting away from that. But it's not a problem of nationality, it's a problem of development. We've gone into depth about that before, and we'll more than likely have to do it again.

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See also: Forget Sky Sports’ Graphic, These Stats Show Irish Football’s Real Problem

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