During every international tournament, there's always a clamour over the players sat twiddling their thumbs on the bench and waiting to start. Indeed, players become world-beaters when they’re left out and the ones on the pitch aren't good enough. This type of discussion is common practice for football fans and a great testament to football's nature as a divisive sport that draws many differing opinions.
The biggest talking point of the Euros for England has been the omission of Jack Grealish from Gareth Southgate’s starting line-up. The Aston Villa captain has been the centre of the tournament outrage with pundits and armchair managers pulling their hair out at the lack of chances being afforded to the attacking midfielder.
𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐦𝐚. 𝐂𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐭𝐲. 𝐂𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐬.
He's captured the hearts of much of the nation - and tonight, @JackGrealish gets his chance from the start ❤️
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 22, 2021
These calls for his inclusion only got louder after Grealish starred in a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic by providing an assist for Raheem Sterling’s winning goal. Needless to say, when the news came through that the Birmingham-born midfielder wasn’t in the starting squad to play against the Germans in the Round of 16, the response was that of an unbearable din of frustration. That was until Southgate called upon the Villa captain to make an impact on the 0-0 game at the 70-minute mark. The camera flashed to Grealish stripping off his tracksuit and the crowd picked up the images on the big screen, an almighty roar followed and the tone was set.
England went on to have their first goal five minutes later and then added to that with another belter at the 86-minute mark, at which point it was clear that the Three Lions had taken an unassailable lead. At that moment, victory over Germany was confirmed and a place in the quarter-finals of the competition secured. It all seemed so easy all of a sudden despite an hour of toiling hard without much reward. The truth is, everything flowed when Grealish made his arrival from the bench. In the blink of an eye, the fluidity that was missing returned and a genuine panic set in among the German defenders.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) June 29, 2021
That's the Jack Grealish effect in a nutshell. It wouldn't be the slightest bit unrealistic to say that England has a world-beater on their hands and a man that can inspire them to their first trophy in 55 years. A look at the latest football betting will confirm this, with England the outright favourites at a knee-trembling 15/8 to win the Euros.
Out of all the clamour we’ve had to listen to over the various international tournaments, this is without a doubt the time when it has been the most justified. Indeed, it has become abundantly clear that Grealish is one of the best midfielders of his generation.
The 25-year-old has had his critics and it’s fair to say that before a ball was kicked at the Euros, many were still left distinctly unimpressed by the cut of his jib. But there can be no denying Grealish’s genius now: England's number seven has announced himself on the world stage and is headed for the rarefied atmosphere of the beautiful game that only the game's greatest can reach.