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6 August 2021

From Maurice Revello Tournament to Manchester City... Jack Grealish in five dates

After several weeks of negotiations, it is now official: Jack Grealish is a new Manchester City player. The English champions paid around 117 million euros to acquire the English midfielder, winner of the Maurice Revello Tournament in 2016. Here is a look back at five important dates in his career.

7 May 2014: First Premier League appearance

His childlike face and frail figure don't give him away. At the end of the 2013-2014 season, Jack Grealish was still a teenager. At just 18 years of age, the young midfielder is a promise of the Aston Villa academy, where he shines in the U19 team. To help him mature, the club sent him on loan to League One side Notts County in the summer of 2013. There's nothing like the rough and tumble English third division and its 46-game seasons to get a taste of the top level. The result: 38 games, 5 goals, 7 assists and a guaranteed survival without having to go through the play-offs for Notts County. It was an enriching and promising experience for Grealish, who returned to Aston Villa at a time when they were struggling to stay in Premier League. However, this did not stop Paul Lambert, the coach at the time, from launching him on 7 May 2014. He came on in place of Ryan Bertrand and made his Premier League debut against Manchester City. Despite the 4-0 defeat, the club retained their place in the top league.

19 May 2016: Participation in the Maurice Revello Tournament

Jack Grealish has a special international history. Born in England, he has strong Irish roots, notably through his grandparents, all of whom are from Dublin and the surrounding area. This personal history led the midfielder to play for the Boys In Green. His first international appearances, from the U17s to the U21s, were in the green jersey of Ireland, with whom he played in the qualifiers for the Euro U21s in 2015. These were his last games with the Irish national team. Called-up to play for the senior team in May 2015, he declined the invitation and four months later, in September, he announced his desire to play for England. A desire that materialised in 2016... during the Maurice Revello Tournament. In the South of France, Grealish got his first caps with the Young Three Lions and even scored two goals. Alongside Jordan Pickford, Ben Chilwell and James Ward-Prowse, and under the guidance of Gareth Southgate, he won the competition and earned his place in a golden generation, which will lead him to Euro 2020...

Jack Grealish and England winners of the Maurice Revello Tournament 2016

10 March 2019: A crazy derby against Birmingham

If you had to remember one game from Jack Grealish's young career, it would probably be this one. Then in the thick of the race for promotion to the Premier League, Aston Villa faced Birmingham on Matchday 36 of the Championship in a fiery derby. Historically tense and heated, the clash took a nasty turn in the ninth minute. A Birmingham fan burst onto the pitch, lunged at Jack Grealish and punched him in the face. The crowd applauded stupidly, the spectator was sent off the pitch and Grealish did not respond and sat on the ground, visibly shaken but fortunately unhurt. While this event would have sent many players crashing to the ground, the midfielder, unfazed, came out of it pumped up. With the elegance and technique that we know him for, he recited a sublime score that he concluded with a magnificent cross-shot in the second half, giving his team the victory. "Jack is a great guy and a great player, said coach Dean Smith after the game. We're proud of the way he responded. His mind was totally focused on the game, we didn't even talk about the incident at half-time. He's got great character".

8 September 2020: First senior cap

With his decision to play for England confirmed, Jack Grealish is now just waiting for his time in the senior national team. After an excellent 2019-2020 season in the Premier League (36 games, 8 goals, Aston Villa maintained), he is knocking on the door. His profile as a playmaker combining explosiveness and technical finesse is not common, especially across the Channel, where the national team can sometimes lack creativity in midfield. Grealish has been praised by his peers, as well as by the press and the fans, who are keen to see him play for the Three Lions. Their wish was granted in September 2020. Gareth Southgate, who launched him with England at the Maurice Revello Tournament 2016, called him up to the senior side for the first time. The Aston Villa player honoured his first cap on 8 September against Denmark in the Nations League (0-0) and two days before his 25th birthday. Without doubt the best gift of all.

5 August 2021: Signing for Manchester City

Jack Grealish's career was already well-filled, and all that was missing was a move to a major European club. After weeks of negotiations, it is now a done deal. The Birmingham native signed a six-year contract with Manchester City on Thursday for the record sum of 117 million euros. In the Citizens, he will be reunited with some of his national team mates (Kyle Walker, John Stones, etc.) and will be looked after by Pep Guardiola, an absolute fan of the player, whom he has wanted to sign for months. "I'm incredibly happy to be joining Manchester City, Grealish told the club's official website after his signing. City are the best team in the country with a manager who is considered the best in the world. It is a dream come true to be part of this club". With the English champions, he will compete in the Champions League for the first time and fight for trophies. More than an achievement, it is a new beginning. Jack Grealish will be under pressure. But deep down, he loves it.

Mathieu Lauricella


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