Grealish Wembley wonder show may hit Irish hopes

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Grealish revelled in the Villa celebrations at Wembley
Grealish revelled in the Villa celebrations at Wembley

Jack Grealish was the star of the show as Aston Villa stormed into the FA Cup final with a victory against Liverpool at Wembley on Sunday - and that may be bad news for Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill.

Grealish has kept the Irish soccer chiefs waiting over whether he will commit his international future to the green shirt, even though he has represented Ireland at junior levels and was recently named as the FAI's Young Player of the Year.

His apparent eagerness to wait and see whether England - the country of his birth - would show an interest in calling him up may have moved a giant step closer as he turned on a cultured display in Villa's famous cup victory.

It came as little surprise that his extravagantly spoken manager Tim Sherwood was full of praise for the 19-year-old after his side's 2-1 Wembley win, as he offered this glowing tribute. 

"He could be right up there amongst the best of them," declared Sherwood. "The ball is his friend.

"He likes to receive it he doesn't look at it, he knows where it is, he shifts it, he's got a turn of foot, takes a lot of knocks, but he can take it. He's a big lad.

"He's Aston Villa through and through. He lives a couple of miles from the ground, he just wants to play for the club and I want to give him the platform to do that because he's earned the right."

A delighted Grealish spoke to the BBC after the game, as he revelled in the best moment of his career so far.

"It was brilliant for me to play at Wembley at my age and go one to win," said Grealish. "Now we want to go on and win it.

"I thank the gaffer for giving me a load of belief and hopefully that will continue for the rest of this season." 

The English media are already speculating that Grealish could be approached by the FA in London after his Wembley heroics, with Ireland boss O'Neill and the FAI needing to try and hasten the decision that has yet to be made and try to swing it in their favour.