Jack Grealish was “buzzing” when Gareth Southgate decided to remain as England manager after the World Cup, and believes that call will reap rewards at next year’s Euros.
England start their qualifying campaign for Euro 2024 on Thursday when they face Italy, who beat the Three Lions in the Euro 2020 final, before hosting Ukraine three days later.
It will be England’s first encounter since their World Cup quarter-final defeat to France in December.
Southgate was considering his future ahead of England’s campaign in Qatar, but elected to stay on, sticking with a contract that expires next year.
The decision proved to be a popular one among the England squad, with many of the players having been given their debut by Southgate, who has been in charge since 2016.
“I was buzzing,” Grealish told reporters. “Gareth called me up to my first squad, he gave me my debut and he has given me chances to play for my country – it’s the best thing that can happen to you as a player.
“Go and ask anyone in that changing room what they think of Gareth and they would all say the same. He is a brilliant manager and a brilliant person as well.
“I can’t speak highly enough of him for what he has done for me.”
Euro 2024, hosted by Germany, will be Southgate’s fourth major tournament as England manager and Grealish thinks that experience will help the Three Lions go all the way after their heartbreak in 2021.
“We have come close so many times,” said the Manchester City star. “The last three tournaments have been a semi-final, a final and then the quarters.
“I think it is obvious what we want to do and I think we are getting better and better. Players are coming through and playing with so much confidence.
“I feel like the next one really could be our one. Everyone will be in their prime. I actually feel old at the moment but when I think about it, I will only be 28 at the Euros.
“It’s no secret that we all want to win a tournament – and I do think it is there to be done.”
After impressing at the delayed Euro 2020, Grealish became the most expensive English player when he joined City from boyhood club Aston Villa for £100million.
Having struggled to hit his best form during his debut season, his sophomore year has seen much improvement. Grealish has scored three goals, set up a further seven and created 61 chances for team-mates from 36 appearances, 28 of which have been starts.
He added: “I feel I am in the best form since I moved to City. I feel a bit like I did when I was at Aston Villa.
“I feel like one of the main players and it is the fittest I’ve been. That comes down to playing a lot of games on the bounce and playing in big games and making an impact, like scoring against Arsenal and [Manchester] United and getting assists at Chelsea away and Arsenal in the cup.
“I’m really confident at the moment. [Pep Guardiola] is trusting me in big games and I do feel I have repaid him, played my part, done well.”
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