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Jack Grealish explains his key weapon for England and hails Harry Kane connection

Those who like to pigeonhole Jack Grealish will not be surprised to discover where he was when England were last competing in a major tournament.

In Marbella and Ibiza. Obvs.

But when Grealish was not letting his headband loose in party central, he was dreaming of doing exactly what the boys of 2018 did … uniting a country behind its footballers.

Over the next month or so, Grealish will get the chance to do exactly that and it is one he intends to grasp.

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“I’m not just saying this because it sounds good or whatever – it’s because I genuinely mean it,” he explains. “But I think that was one summer when it was as if Gareth and the lads brought the whole nation together.

Jack Grealish is set for his first major international tournament for England
Jack Grealish is set for his first major international tournament for England

“I actually said to someone after the game against Austria how it feels nice to be playing in a stadium with England fans who support different clubs but they’re there supporting you, if that makes sense?

“It was the first time I’d ever done it. Obviously most of the lads had played with fans before but for me it was my first time and I absolutely loved it. It gave me goosebumps when I was singing the national anthem and listening to the crowd as well.”

And if you ever had the slightest doubt what representing England means to Grealish, it should now be dispelled.

Imagine how he is going to feel when Wembley is in full voice. Well, a quarter of Wembley is in full voice.

No-one in Southgate’s camp can possibly be as pumped-up for Euro 2020 as England’s most mercurial talent.

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As if he needed a smidgeon of extra motivation, the England manager, cutely, provided it by handing him a prized squad number.

“When I got the number seven, I got so many messages from family and friends saying they were going out straight away to buy a shirt,” he smiles. “The number seven is a bit of an iconic number in England terms.

“So many great players have worn the shirt and hopefully I can follow in their footsteps and perform well in it.

“What young lad didn’t look up to David Beckham? I certainly did. If I have half the career he had, then I’ll be over the moon.”

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Having been compared so often to Paul Gascoigne and now with Beckham’s number, Grealish has a lot of expectation to live up to, but he has shown no signs of being unable to deliver on the international stage.

The clamour for him to start against Croatia in England’s championship-opener is already loud.

And Grealish believes his remarkable knack of winning free-kicks could be one card in his favour when it comes to Southgate’s final selection.

He says: “It’s not so much for Villa because we haven’t got that many good free-kick takers but here we’re blessed with them.

“The standard here when we do free-kicks after training is just unbelievable.

“Martin O’Neill told me to try and get kicked around the edge of the box or in the box as much as possible. I was a bit young then but now, obviously, I understand why. I’ll take the kicks to help my team, definitely.”

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But Grealish, of course, is about much more than taking the kicks.

While he will wear the seven he would love to be England’s magical ten.

He says: “I just go out there to try to perform and create that one piece of magic. I love playing in that number ten role.

“I’ll play anywhere really, off the left or right, but as a number ten, I don’t think there is anyone better in the world to play with, in front of you, than Harry Kane.

“I feel we have a good connection in training and in games.”

It is a connection Southgate will surely find hard to resist and a connection that could help Grealish fulfil those dreams.

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Where does Grealish fit into England’s plans at Euro 2020? Let us know your starting XI below.

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