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Jack Grealish's Father Believes Gaelic Football Made Him The Player He Is Today

Jack Grealish's Father Believes Gaelic Football Made Him The Player He Is Today
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
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As time passes, the loss of Jack Grealish in the Ireland setup is starting to sting more and more. He has gone from strength to strength at Aston Villa, displaying the type of attacking traits that are sorely lacking in the current senior squad.

While Ireland should not want any player that doesn't want to line out for the country, it is difficult to avoid wondering what might have been had he not changed his international allegiances to England.

It was clear he had the potential to be a star at underage level. He was actually awarded Ireland's U21 Player of the Year award back in 2015, but would declare for England a few months later.

While many players who have lined out for Ireland in the past have had fairly weak links to the country, the same could not be said of Grealish. His father Kevin ensured he was aware of his Irish root during his youth, even playing plenty of Gaelic Football.


He lined out for the John Mitchels club in the English Midlands, and apparently excelled. His father even credits part of his current successes to his time playing the sport.

Speaking to BirminghamLive, Kevin Grealish described how Gaelic Football had toughened him up for a career in professional football:

He'd run the show playing Gaelic. It really helped him because he was knocked from pillar to post. It's brutal compared to soccer.

Jack, as you know, is good with his feet but you can pick the ball up as well and he'd flick it around everyone!

I told Gordan Cowans (Aston Villa coach) that once. He asked why Jack was so good at expecting tackles and stuff and it was the GAA. It really built up his upper body, players would bounce off him. It's probably why he's so strong today.

He had to stop playing at 16, though, they'd just be stamping on his fingers and it became all too much. We had Nike knocking at the door at this point as well who wanted to sponsor him.

It was a summer sport, Gaelic, and he'd play that non-stop, he didn't care about your crickets or rugbys.

He even scored a point in Croke Park.

The player himself spoke fondly of his time playing Gaelic Football during an interview with the times in  2016:


I wasn't really into other sports growing up but I loved Gaelic.

You can play football in it; you don't just have to have the ball in your hands, you can just run with the ball.

But when I was 13, Villa told me I need to stop because it's rough. I still played now and then until I was 15.

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