Jack Grealish has revealed the turmoil and abuse that surrounded his controversial decision to choose to represent England over the Republic of Ireland at international level.
The Aston Villa youngster, capped at Under-21 level with Ireland, could have been available for either country ahead of Euro 2016, instead opting for England, but insists that the choice was not taken lightly.
And after well-publicised problems with his professionalism, the 20-year-old is targeting getting back on track both on and off the pitch as soon as possible.
“It was a big decision and it wasn’t easy for me,” Grealish told the Daily Telegraph.
“I thought about it for a long time, spoke with my family and my agent, but in the end it came from me.
“I didn’t think it was going to be so big, I didn’t expect so much abuse from Ireland fans – I was still getting it during the Euros.
“But for my career I think if I fulfil my ability I can play for England in years to come. I was born here, as were my parents, so I felt more English than Irish.”
Grealish is now focused on the future and working his way up the youth teams that form part of the England set-up.
He said: “I played for England at the Toulon Tournament and that was a great experience.
“I didn’t really have a winning feeling last season, so to play four of the five games, and to score twice, ended it on a good note.
“A cap for the Under-21s is the next target, there’s a qualifier in September and I want to try and be involved in that.”