England star Jack Grealish beamed with pride when asked about Paul Gascoigne’s recent praise of him before revealing that Wayne Rooney was his England hero as a child.
The Aston Villa man was speaking at a press conference just days before England kick off their Euro 2020 campaign against Croatia at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Earlier in the week, Three Lions legend Gascoigne had lauded Grealish’s ability before admitting ‘I do wish he’d pull his socks up though’, and the Villa man couldn’t help but laugh when asked about the comment before expressing his admiration for the former Newcastle player.
“I seen that actually, it made me happy that Gazza likes me as a player,” Grealish told reporters (via England’s official Twitter page). “I think every English person absolutely adores him, he was unbelievable when he burst onto the scene at Italia 90.
“Obviously that was a bit before my time but I’ve grown up watching highlights and if I could get any performances as close to what he did then I’d be over the moon.”
Grealish was asked which was the first major international tournament he remembered watching as a child and who his England hero was growing up and he revealed a certain Wayne Rooney was the player he aspired to be as a youngster.
“I remember Euro 2004 when obviously Rooney burst onto the scene, I think he was only 18 at the time,” he said. “That’s the one that sticks in the memory and you grow up thinking about these things and dreaming about them.”
Grealish was full of praise for Gareth Southgate and admitted the England boss had given him a number of things to work on in order to aid his chances of making the Three Lions squad, though he made an incredible revelation when comparing his club displays to his international performances.
“When I come here I seem to run more in games than I do at Villa, I’m not sure why that is but I still think it’s something I can improve on and I speak to the manager about these type of things,” he said.
“When I first came into the camp I sat down with the manager for about an hour or so and asked him what I could improve on to get into his side and I went away and worked on that.
“He’s [Southgate] the manager of England so he’s obviously going to be a brilliant coach and he’s helped my game massively. He’s given me a few things to work on to help force my way into the team and he’s obviously a great coach.”
Grealish continued to praise Southgate and claimed the former Middlesbrough boss has helped create a spirit within the England camp that means players love joining up with their international teammates and that the group’s comradery could be a huge advantage at Euro 2020.
“I love coming away,” he added. “I’ve heard people say years and years ago they didn’t really enjoy coming, people were backing out of squads but I feel like that’s down to the manager and he deserves credit for that.
“We’re all like a group of mates who just playing together. We love coming away and love training together and I feel like that works as soon as you go onto the pitch.”