Belfast Telegraph

I never wasted time chasing Jack Grealish: Martin O'Neill

By Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill says that he did not 'prostitute' himself in the pursuit of Jack Grealish which ended with the player declaring for England.

The Republic manager has taken umbrage at suggestions that the FAI were humiliated by the Aston Villa winger, arguing that he gave the player space to make a decision as opposed to putting pressure on him to stay in the green jersey.

O'Neill is bemused by the reaction to Grealish's English call and criticism centred around the Irish reliance on players born outside the country.

"I never prostituted myself in any way, shape or form trying to get Jack Grealish," said O'Neill, when asked his reaction to last week's developments.

"I never chased it. I never chased Jack Grealish at all. I think Jack Grealish and his father would readily admit that. In fact, I've actually been accused of the other thing - of not chasing it up.

"Jack Grealish had a decision to make. Jack Grealish was born in England, his father was born in England and therefore he made a decision to play in England so that's it. It's absolutely and utterly his and his father's decision so it's fine because I left it in their hands."

The 63-year-old was informed of the youngster's verdict by his father Kevin and does not think that the input of agents was a factor in his choice.

After Grealish turned down a call in the summer, a representative from the Stellar Group was present at a subsequent meeting between the protagonists.

O'Neill added: "I had a very decent meeting with himself and his father and the agent was there as well at the same time.

"I don't think it (agent) was a factor at all.

"You'll have to make your mind up about this. Whether, as some journalists are saying, you go and prostitute yourself about taking players who were not actually born in the country.

"Naturally, I would love if every single one of these players were born and bred here but that may not necessarily be the case."

O'Neill was speaking after the first Republic training session ahead of Thursday's Euro 2016 qualifier with Germany and Sunday's Group D conclusion in Warsaw.

Shay Given admitted he was disappointed by the loss of his former club colleague and is concerned by the shortage of emerging stars.

"He is a great talent. We wish that we could have nicked him but it wasn't to be. We can't change what he's decided," said the veteran keeper.

"We need another Damien Duff, Robbie Keane or Richard Dunne. We need for a couple more players to come through but I don't see them."

Republic target Daniel Crowley, who is currently on loan at Barnsley from Arsenal, has been called into the England U-19 squad for this week's Euro qualifiers.

O'Neill has made contact with the playmaker about switching his allegiance.

Belfast Telegraph