By Yusuf Mutiu
Aston Villa captain has admitted that he enjoys been likened to Gascoigne but insists he needs to prove more worth in major tournament before he will give in to the comparisons between the pair.
Jack Grealish had a career- defining international break, breaking into the starting xi and giving a top notch performance.
The England boss Gareth Southgate after the team’s defeat to Belgium in the Nations League on Sunday that Grealish “100 percent” jumped up the pecking order following a stellar performance.
There had been talked of Grealish to feature regularly for the three lions after a fine start with Aston Villa into the 2020/21 football season.
His style of play and ruthlessness has seen early identification with Paul Gascoigne, who became a cult hero amongst the three lions football fans during a career with the National team which lasted for a decade.
Grealish is the latest player to be compared to the former Tottenham man, who helped England to the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup and Euro ’96.
“I thrive off those kinds of comparisons. I love Gazza”, said Grealish.
“I’ve watched his documentary on Netflix about a million times. I love his character on and off the pitch.
“I loved the way he played football with such freedom and such joy. You hear so many people speak about him and say he was just a joy to watch – and I think that is the biggest compliment you can have really.
“When people say to me: ‘It is just a joy to watch you’, it makes me happy because that is what I want to do. I just want to entertain people.
“But I also want to be effective on the pitch, just like Gazza was. But those comparisons are obviously far away yet because I have not even played at a tournament, like he did.
“He thrived on the biggest stage and, until I do that, I can’t really be compared to him at the moment.’
Gascoigne was also no stranger to making headlines on the front pages of newspapers as well as the back.
It is a place Grealish found himself earlier this year as he breached government advice against non-essential travel during the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
He issued a public apology for the incident in March and had now acknowledged he could influence plenty of people with his behaviour.
“Years ago I didn’t really think it was a thing on the pitch, it was more off the pitch where I still thought I was just Jack from Solihull and I could just go out and do what I want,” he added.
“But as you get older you probably learn that you are a hero to a lot of young lads. You are a role model, and you need to watch what you’re doing.
“That’s not saying I still won’t make mistakes, because I probably will, but I feel like I have grown up over the years.
“Hopefully I can carry on doing that. I am the captain now of a Premier League club, and I have got to take it all in my stride because at the moment I am just absolutely loving my life.”