The Aston Villa playmaker has been accused of shirking his responsibility as a senior player, but he says the decision was out of his hands
Jack Grealish has blasted back at those accusing him of not stepping up when England needed experience and cool heads in a Euro 2020 final penalty shootout with Italy.
The Three Lions, in their first international showpiece since 1966, saw a meeting with the Azzurri at Wembley Stadium go to spot-kicks after 120 minutes of action delivered a 1-1 draw.
Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all fluffed their lines, with questions being asked of why pressure was piled onto the shoulders of late substitutes and teenage stars.
What has been said?
Fingers have been pointed in Grealish’s direction, as an attacking talent with more than enough ability to convert from 12 yards, but he claims to have volunteered when Gareth Southgate was looking for a list of five takers.
The Aston Villa captain has posted on social media: “I said I wanted to take one!!!!
“The gaffer has made so many right decisions through this tournament and he did tonight!
“But I won’t have people say that I didn’t want to take a peno when I said I will.”
I said I wanted to take one!!!!
The gaffer has made so many right decisions through this tournament and he did tonight! But I won’t have people say that I didn’t want to take a peno when I said I will… https://t.co/3mBpKyMoUV
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish) July 12, 2021
The bigger picture
Grealish has never taken a penalty for Villa at senior level, but that is only because alternative options have always been favoured.
He is a confident character and would have backed himself to deliver on the grandest of sporting stages.
That opportunity was denied him, with England suffering a 3-2 defeat as Gianluigi Donnarumma proved to be a hero for Italy.
Jordan Pickford kept out two Italian penalties, but his efforts ultimately counted for nothing as the Three Lions saw 55 years of hurt extended towards next year’s World Cup in Qatar.