England star Jack Grealish has opened up on being compared to Rangers icon Paul Gascoigne and admits he “thrives” on it – but insists he doesn’t really think he can be compared to the Geordie genius yet.
The Aston Villa midfielder has had a number of pundits compare him with the mercurial star and confessed that he “loves” Gazza and has watched his Netflix documentary “a million times.”
Despite that, Grealish is adamant he has a long way to go to be close to Gascoigne but believes playing in a major tournament will help him earn the comparisons.
“I thrive off those kinds of comparisons. I love Gazza. I’ve watched his documentary on Netflix about a million times,” he said. [AS]
“I love his character, on the pitch and off the pitch. I love the way he played football, such a freedom and such a joy. You know, you’ve you hear so many people speak about him and say it was just a joy to watch.
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“And I think that’s the biggest compliment that you can have, when people say to me, it’s just a joy to watch you, you know that makes me happy, because that’s what I want to do. I just want to entertain people but I also want to be effective on the pitch just like Gazza was.
“But obviously those comparisons are far away, because I’ve not even played a tournament. Like he thrived on the biggest stage. And until I do that, I think I can’t really be compared to him at the moment.”
Rangers legend Graham Roberts was one of those who linked the two this week, although fans weren’t exactly convinced yet – with one calling it an insult to Gazza.
While Grealish might have a vaguely similar style, Gascoigne’s influence on and off the park has him in a different stratosphere.
When he moved to Lazio in the early 90s it prompted huge interest in the Italian game here and ever spawned one of British TV’s most fondly-remembered football shows in Football Italia – before his move to Rangers prompted thousands to copy his bleached blonde haircut.
Once Grealish has that sort of impact on the game, then we can seriously look at these kind of comparisons between the two.