The creation of Jack Grealish in the words of the man who knows him best – ORA SPORT MANING

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Jack Grealish scored England's sixth goal in their World Cup opener against Iran in Qatar

Fueled by Balti curries and battle-hardened by Gaelic football – this was Jack Grealish’s childhood, a little boy now starring for club and country.

Grealish, who today scored his first goal in a major tournament with England, was still in elementary school when Aston Villa first hit, with devoted father Kevin leading him to sporting engagements here, there and everywhere.

All these years and Grealish still brings a childlike wonder to his athletic achievements with his old man as dedicated as ever to providing as much support for Super Jack as possible.

In the 2000s, Grealish adored GAA and represented John Mitchels in Dorridge, Solihull. The sport, according to Kevin, has strengthened him and developed his characteristic trait of dealing with the treatment of injuries he routinely receives from opponents in the more common form of football for which he is now internationally famous.

Still among the most fouled players in the Premier League, the attacking midfielder can expect plenty of attention at the World Cup, but his childhood Gaelic base makes him well equipped to come back for more.

“He ran the show playing Gaelic,” Kevin told BirminghamLive. “It really helped him because he got knocked down from pillar to post. It’s brutal compared to football. Jack, as you know, is good with his feet, but you can also catch the ball and he throws at everybody!

“I told Gordan Cowans once; he asked why Jack was so good at waiting for tackles and stuff and it was the GAA. He really built his upper body, players would jump out of him. That’s probably why he’s so strong today.

“He had to stop playing at 16, however, they were just stepping on his toes and it became too much. We had Nike knocking on the door at this point too, who wanted to sponsor him.”

Grealish’s passion for the GAA grew out of his school days at St Peter’s, a Catholic school that really drove Ireland’s national game forward. “It was a summer sport, Gaelic, and he played it non-stop, he didn’t care about his crickets or rugbys,” added dad Kevin.

Grealish was “Gabby mad” growing up and Kevin used to clean up the lyrics to Agbonlahor’s ‘fast as f***’ terrace chant for Jack and his brothers, and also sense other profanity songs.

“We always sit at the Witton Lane booth and we still have their first season ticket. It cost about £99 I think,” says Kevin. “He was always passionate about it, even as a kid. It’s something he’s always loved.

“I remember him participating in all the chants, but we had to be careful because we didn’t want him to participate in the swearing. We used to change it up a bit to get rid of all the malicious words!

“You know that ‘My old man said to be a City fan… no! Ha, not sure our version would catch on Holte!

“We tried to get his sisters to sing the song ‘Gabby, Gabby, Gabby, Gabby’ Agbonlahor, he’s fast as you know…’ but instead of the swearing we changed it to ‘Gabby, Gabby, Gabby, Gabby Agbonlahor, your pants are small, your pants are small!’”

Kevin remembers Grealish’s excitement as he approached Agbonlahor and other first-team stars as he progressed through the gym at Bodymoor Heath, seeking out memories at the end of each season.

“He was just football, football, football. He did everything for leather and really worked hard,” he explains.

“He wasn’t the biggest of the kids, medium to small, but the coaches always pushed him in the age groups, he played against kids two or three years older. There’s usually an influx of kids in the gyms, most come and go and come back, but they wanted to keep Jack with them at all costs.

“I still remember taking him for the first time when he was just six years old, it feels like yesterday, which is scary. What he would love is that at the end of every season the first team gave their game balls and Jack had one and was absolutely fascinated by him, he took him everywhere. That was his ball.

“He just couldn’t believe first-team players like Gabbys or Gareth Barrys kicked that ball he had in his backyard. He thought it was crazy. But Jack was no problem. He was in digs when he was 15, staying at Walmley It was usually two kids per house, don’t get me wrong, they were very la-di-da, he had his own bathroom and stuff, but it taught him to grow up.

“What would happen is the boys would have to walk to Sutton and they would be picked up and dropped off and they would have to find their own way back. It wasn’t Solihull, so Jack had to learn. He still talks to some of the Irish boys who did part of that youth team; Mickey Drennan, Graham Burke and Enda Stevens, who is at Sheffield United now. He loved the Irish lads and still has time for absolutely everyone. I can’t imagine him walking around Sutton now though, he would be harassed!”

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Kevin also spoke of Grealish’s love of “a good old balti curry” from the family’s favorite Bengali restaurant in Moseley, The Diwan.

“We used to go once a month,” Kev added. “It’s exactly the same place where David Cameron ate with his wife when he was in Birmingham a few years ago.

“The first time Jack went there, he was nine months old munching on a naan bread. We still go there every once in a while, but obviously not Jack that much now because of his football diet. He has his own private chef today in day.. Many of the players use them. He uses the same one as Harry Kane.”

And while Baltis have been scrapped in favor of steamed fish and chicken, Grealish, like his days playing GAA at age 14, is grafting in every week. “Now I’m not just saying that,” Kevin explained, “but Jack worked like an absolute Trojan horse. He also shot up, I think he’s about six feet now.

“He knows it’s a short career and Jack is giving himself the best chance he can. He was 19 when he first left Wembley, there aren’t many who could have done what he did (against Liverpool), he is loving every minute of it.”

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