Jack Grealish is hoping to follow in the footsteps of England icons Paul Gascoigne and Wayne Rooney by starring at Euro 2020.
Grealish was handed his first start of the tournament during England’s 1-0 win over the Czech Republic, providing the assist for Raheem Sterling’s winner as the Three Lions secured their progress as group winners.
Gareth Southgate’s side will now face the runners-up of Group F – either France, Germany, Portugal or Hungary – at Wembley in the last 16 on Tuesday and Grealish has spoken on his determination to emulate some of the national side’s most iconic players and produce in a major tournament.
“Definitely. I have spoken about how big these tournaments can be in players’ careers,” he told Sky Sports when asked if Euro 2020 could be the making of him.
“If you look back and think of Gazza at Italia 90, that is where he first made a… well he was obviously still well known before, but I think everyone remembers him for that tournament especially.
“You look at Wayne Rooney in Euro 2004 – I think that was where he set his marker to say I am going to be one of the best in the world.
“I am hoping to follow in their footsteps and hopefully I can do that if I get more chances in this tournament.”
Grealish refuted claims that playing for England provides additional pressure and says he is keen to continue enjoying his football no matter the occasion, though the Aston Villa captain admits he wanted more from his second-half showing against the Czechs despite a ‘good performance’.
“I don’t think it is pressure,” he said. “I love playing football. That is what I am paid to do. That is what I have been born to do.
“I just play football every day of my life. When I go out there and play it is no pressure on me whatsoever. I go out there and just enjoy myself like I always do.
“I felt like I had a good performance but I still maybe felt like in the second half I could have got on the ball a little more and probably tried to dictate the game a little more from an England point of view.”