Sunday, November 27, 2022

Jack Grealish dedicates World Cup goal to 11-year-old Man City fan with cerebral palsy

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Grealish marks England’s sixth goal with a celebration demanded by an 11-year-old fan with cerebral palsy

Jack Grealish lived up to his promise to dedicate his celebration to 11-year-old Manchester City fan Finlay Fisher after he scored England’s last goal in the 6-1 win over Iran.

Earlier this month the striker had met Fisher, a young supporter with cerebral palsy who had written him a letter after Grealish’s sister had the same condition.

Grealish not only wrote back and sent him a signed City shirt, but surprised the fan by meeting him at a youth tournament and asking him how he planned to celebrate his next goal.

Fisher first asked him to do the “worm” dance, but then waved his arms, to which Grealish replied, “I’ll do that for you, I promise.”

The 27-year-old had started England’s World Cup opener on the bench but as the Three Lions crossed he replaced Raheem Sterling with 20 minutes to go and slotted into sixth after Callum Wilson’s run from the right.

It was Gareth Southgate’s team’s second-biggest win in World Cup history, after beating Panama 6-1 at Russia 2018.

However, an explanation was needed given England’s poor form in Qatar, which included relegation from the Nations League.

Goals from Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka (2), Sterling and Marcus Rashford – who scored with just his third touch after coming on – ensured England were already on their way to an emphatic victory by the time Grealish struck, but his celebrations managed arguably the most memorable of the six goals.

It’s not feasible to include all of Saka, Rashford, Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Sterling and Grealish, but Southgate’s use of three of them as impact subs against Iran showed they all have a role to play.

And Grealish has made another bid for more minutes in England’s next World Cup match against the USA. The call for his inclusion was one of the recurring themes at Euro 2020, but this time it wasn’t that much of a problem for Southgate as the City winger has only scored once in the Premier League this season.

What has always set him apart for the national team is his almost unrivaled ability to bring joy – and that hasn’t changed 18 months after the European Championship.

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