Players like Manchester United and Liverpool captains Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson are to credit for England’s united squad, according to Manchester City playmaker Jack Grealish.
With City and Liverpool both battling for the Premier League title over the last few seasons, and both clubs having fierce rivalries with United, there could be potential for rifts or divides in the England dressing room. However, Gareth Southgate has created an atmosphere where club rivals are left at the door for England, with City star Grealish saying credit must go to more senior players like Maguire and Henderson.
McDonald’s Fun Football Ambassador Grealish speaking at the Launch of McDonald’s new Fun Football program which is offering one million kids access to FREE football over the next four years revealed: “It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why the team spirit is so good.
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“Obviously, the manager has a big part to play in it. The one thing I can say is we all love coming away with England. It’s something we all love doing. Honestly, it’s brilliant to come away with this squad.
“I’d probably say the more experienced lads [are also key]. The likes of Hendo, Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and the players who have been in the squad for a while now. I’d say they are really the ones who help knit the group together. Their experience always helps.
“The one thing we really do have here is a mix of the older lads with experience, shall we say, and then we have the younger crop of players too, who all get on incredibly well. Honestly, there aren’t any cliques here No matter what team you play for, playing together for England is something we all love doing. At the end of the day, there’s only one goal for all of us.
And the example set by the United and Liverpool captains is something Grealish has tried to replicate when new players are called up into the squad.
He said: “Honestly, on my first day, I was so nervous when I come here. I mean so nervous! So now, of course, when I see the new lads arriving here, I help to try and make them feel as welcome as possible.Everyone done that this time with Jarrod [Bowen] and James Justin. Even today, we’ve had a few of the young lads from the Under-21s come up and train with us for the first time because we needed some extra numbers. And it was great. It’s always nice to see them. “
Grealish, who will be hoping to help England in their games against Germany, Italy and Hungary over the next week, says his role models growing up also included some United icons.
“At the start, it was more Aston Villa players: Benito Carbone, Juan Pablo Angel, Gabby Agbonlahor. I’d probably say those three. Ashley Young as well,” he revealed.
“Then, as I got older around 12, 13, 14, 15-years-old, I started watching YouTube clips of footballers: Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and players like that. I had a lot of idols I aspired to be like.
“Even when I was younger watching England, I loved watching Wayne Rooney. He was immense at Euro 2004, for instance. And even today, I like watching back the videos of Gazza [Paul Gascoigne] playing. Be it on YouTube or the documentaries about him. “
McDonald’s Fun Football is offering one million kids access to FREE football over the next four years as part of the largest grassroots football program in the UK. Start your kids football journey by visiting McDonalds.co.uk/Football