Man City’s Jack Grealish names two Man Utd legends among his childhood football idols

The Manchester City attacker also selected four Aston Villa stars when speaking at the launch of McDonald’s new Fun Football programme.

Jack Grealish named two Manchester United legends among his childhood football heroes, when asked in a recent interview which players he admired most growing up.

The Manchester City star selected Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney among those he most enjoyed watching as a youngster, as well as four stars who turned out for his boyhood Aston Villa.

“I had loads,” said Grealish, speaking at the Launch of McDonald’s new Fun Football programme, which is offering one million kids access to free football over the next four years.

“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.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney playing for Manchester United in 2007. Credit: Getty.

“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.

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“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.”

Maguire a key England figure

Grealish is currently away with his England colleagues on international duty, and came off the bench in last weekend’s disappointing Nations League defeat at the hands of Hungary.

In recent years the Three Lions squad have become renowned for their unity, openness and on-field success, especially when reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the final of last summer’s European Championships.

Asked which players are central to that camaraderie, Grealish highlighted United skipper Harry Maguire as one of the key figures in the dressing room, despite his difficult spell over the past 12 months at club and international level.

McDonald’s Fun Football Ambassador Jack Grealish was speaking at the Launch of McDonald’s new Fun Football programme which is offering one million kids access to free football over the next four years.

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“I’d probably say the more experienced lads. The likes of Hendo [Jordan Henderson], 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,” explained City’s No.10.

“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.”

Next up for England it’s a trip to face their old enemy Germany in the second Nations League outing, and Grealish highlighted the importance of every international game between now and the World Cup, with precious few opportunities for the team to bond ahead of the journey to Qatar in November.

“Everyone here wants to win that game [against Germany,” he said. “Over the past two years, our win ratio has been incredible.

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“In fact, I can’t think of too many that we haven’t beaten. Apart from Belgium away and the Italy game [in the final of the Euros] , which we lost on penalties, we’ve been very successful.

“So, of course, we want to keep that run going into the World Cup. I think it’s six games now until then, which are six very important games because we’ll only have something like 20 days together before we do go to the World Cup.”