Jack The (English) Lad

Posted: September 29, 2015 in Football, Opinion
Tags: , , , ,


Jack Grealish has decided to represent England at international level.

This assumes that, at some stage in the future, he is actually selected. He should be though, as England do not have a plethora of gifted players from which to make their selection.

He has already played for the Republic on nearly twenty occasions from under-17 to under-21 levels and qualified under the grandparent rule. Now, by choosing England, he stands to make a lot more money but little else.

Small fish, large pond or large fish small pond. Basically that was the choice facing Jack Grealish, who has always maintained that his heart is Irish, unlike his wallet which is English.

One nation was always going to lose out in this situation although I think Ireland will feel the loss slightly more than England would have.

Strangely enough, I have a little understanding of his dilemma. My father was born in Dundee, Scotland and moved to Manchester at age 24 where he met and married my mother. Whilst growing up I struggled to find any natural loyalty to either Scotland or England. I was always split between the two and when they played the Home Internationals I always supported the team with the most Manchester United players. Loyalty to my father meant that, had I been lucky enough to have become a professional football player, I would probably have chosen Scotland, (who actually had a decent team back then). It was only as I got older that I started to question the parent/grandparent rule.

As with a lot of people, when Jack Charlton took over as manager of the Republic and started finding players with very tenuous, but legitimate, connections to Ireland, I began to take a little more notice.

My opinion now, though unimportant, is that a player should, when picked, represent the country in which he was born. If there had been no chance of Grealish playing for England do you think, for one moment, that he would have abandoned Ireland? He should never have been allowed to be selected for Ireland in the first place.

Yes, there is a sentimental attachment to the land of our forefathers and mothers but they or their offspring left that country for whatever reason. It was usually to try and better themselves and their families. Like it or not, the loyalty now becomes due to the country in which you were born, raised and educated. The only waiver of this, that I can see, would be if a child is taken to another country before the age of, let’s say, five years. Then he/she would have had the majority of his/her upbringing in their “new” country.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of this situation it is a question for Grealish to ponder. His conscience is what matters to him and, ultimately, the decision is the right one but for the wrong reasons. Had he never been allowed to play for Ireland in the first place this would not have become the issue it has and Grealish wouldn’t have been forced into this dilemma whereby he has to upset some members of his own family never mind the English or Irish supporters.

It is probably time to change this rule which seems to allow for anybody to play for anybody. So check your history. If your grandfather owned a homing pigeon which once flew very close to Dublin and you can kick a ball quite well, you could find yourself being Irishified.

Anyway, good luck to Jack. He has made his choice and, no doubt, there will be others in future faced with the same problem, unless some common sense prevails before then, of course.


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