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Jack Grealish

Grealish hoping to 'follow in footsteps' of Gascoigne & Rooney & lay down England marker at Euro 2020

09:05 BST 23/06/2021
Jack Grealish England 2021
The Aston Villa star is aiming for the very top after impressing in his first start for the Three Lions at the summer tournament

Jack Grealish has admitted that he is hoping to "follow in the footsteps" of Paul Gascoigne and Wayne Rooney by laying down a marker for England at Euro 2020.

Grealish won his ninth cap for the Three Lions on Tuesday night as Gareth Southgate's side beat the Czech Republic 1-0 to qualify for the last 16 as Group D winners, and provided the assist for Raheem Sterling's decisive first-half goal.

That Wembley outing was the Aston Villa playmaker's first start of the tournament, but he is now aiming to emulate two of the most famous players in his country's history and announce himself on the biggest possible stage.

What's been said?

Asked whether he feels the European Championship can be a springboard for his career, Grealish told reporters: "Definitely. I have spoken about how big these tournaments can be in players' careers.

"If you look back and think of Gazza at Italia 90, that is where he first made a… well he was obviously still well known before, but I think everyone remembers him for that tournament especially.

"You look at Wayne Rooney in Euro 2004 - I think that was where he set his marker to say: 'I am going to be one of the best in the world'.

"I am hoping to follow in their footsteps and hopefully I can do that if I get more chances in this tournament."

Grealish shines as England progress

Mason Mount started ahead of Grealish in England's first two games against Croatia and Scotland, but the 25-year-old got his chance against the Czechs after the Chelsea star was forced to self-isolate with Ben Chilwell in accordance with Covid-19 protocols.

Grealish seized the opportunity with both hands as the Three Lions dominated the opening 30 minutes, driving the team forward with his outstanding dribbling ability and impressive passing range.

He provided a pin-point cross for Sterling to head home the winner and lasted 68 minutes before being replaced by Jude Bellingham as Southgate began to ring the changes with one eye on the first knockout stage.

"I love playing football. That is what I was born to do," Grealish said of his performance. "I just play football every day of my life. When I go out there and play it is no pressure on me whatsoever. 

"I felt like I had a good performance good but I still maybe felt like in the second half I could have got on the ball a little more and probably tried to dictate the game a little more from an England point of view.

"I have never played in the Europa League or Champions League before, so it is obviously different to what I am used to. I love it and if I perform on this stage it is a matter of showcasing my talent to the world and that is what I want to do."

Grealish hails Saka 

Grealish went on to praise Bukayo Saka, who was also handed his first start of the Euros and helped England to find plenty of gaps in the Czech Republic defence with his dynamic style of play.

"It is no surprise to us," said the Villa midfielder. "He is fearless and he is direct. He is only 19, still young, but he is obviously a great talent and a lovely kid as well. He is so liked in the changing room by everyone and by the coaching staff.

"He is just one of those kids you can just tell has come from a lovely background. He has got the world at his feet."

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