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Jack Grealish on Man. City, the UEFA Champions League, Stormzy, his socks, calves and PlayStation football skills – interview

Jack Grealish says the UEFA Champions League is the title "that everyone wants" at Manchester City this year as Pep Guardiola's side prepare to take on Atlético in the quarter-finals.

Manchester City's Jack Grealish reflects on his first season with his new team, what he learned from his experience with England at EURO 2020, and what it is like to work with Pep Guardiola.
Champions League player focus: Jack Grealish

The golden boy of English football following his high-profile move from Aston Villa to Manchester City in the wake of eye-catching performances at UEFA EURO 2020, Jack Grealish has moved up another gear this season with his first appearances in the UEFA Champions League.

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The 26-year-old has been hampered at times by injuries in his first campaign under Pep Guardiola, but continues to excite fans around the world with his style as well as skill, not least his sculpted calves and unconventional way of wearing socks.

Grealish: "The Champions League is something you dream of"
Grealish: "The Champions League is something you dream of"

As City aim to go one step further than last season, when they lost to Chelsea in the 2021 UEFA Champions League final, Grealish sat down to speak to UEFA.com.

Is Jack Grealish in your Fantasy Football team?

On taking on Atlético Madrid in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals

You just enter it like it's any other game. That's what I’ve done this season. I've played in a lot of big games — Chelsea home and away, Liverpool away, PSG away, Manchester United at home; I've played in all of these big games. It's obviously going to be a big occasion, something that I can't wait for; the knockout stage of the Champions League is something you dream of.

Your Jack Grealish questions answered

How old is Jack Grealish? 26; he turns 27 on 10 September 2022.

Where is Jack Grealish from? He was born in Birmingham and grew up in nearby Solihull in the English Midlands.

Who does Jack Grealish play for? Manchester City.

Who does Jack Grealish support? He grew up supporting Aston Villa — the club he first signed for in 2001, and played for until 2021.

On leaving Aston Villa for Man. City

Grealish: "I'd love to learn another language"
Grealish: "I'd love to learn another language"

It was a massive decision. I'd been at Villa since I was six, growing up playing for my boyhood club and captaining them. To leave was obviously a difficult decision but it was something I felt was right at the time. It was going to be me stepping out of my comfort zone, but I've enjoyed it. I think that's what life's all about, experiencing different things, and I've certainly done that.

At Villa and at Notts County, and even when I go away with the [England] national team, you have the same culture, the same nationality; here [at City] there are only four or five of us who are English. That's been another great experience and something that I've enjoyed. Have I picked up any words in any other languages? No, not yet. I'd love to learn another language, but I just don't think I've got the patience.

On making his UEFA Champions League debut in a 6-3 win against Leipzig on Matchday 1

Highlights: Man. City 6-3 Leipzig
Highlights: Man. City 6-3 Leipzig

I always remember that JT — John Terry — said: 'Wait until you're standing up and you're hearing the Champions League anthem', and I thought: 'Oh, really?' I didn't really think anything of it at the time, but then, when I was standing there, I just thought back to when he said it, and I was like: 'No, this is unbelievable.' Then to have the start that I did, scoring and assisting in the same game, on my Champions League debut, was a dream for me.

Most of the lads here, they've won everything, numerous times. [The Champions League is] the one that everyone wants this year. Obviously, it's brilliant if we can go and win every competition that we're in, but that being one that we haven't won yet, I think that's what we have our eyes on.

The unmistakeable calves of Manchester City's Jack Grealish
The unmistakeable calves of Manchester City's Jack GrealishOffside via Getty Images

Why does Jack Grealish play with his socks rolled down?

That was just something that I've done since I was a kid. I think I was about 14 or 15 at Villa, and the socks used to shrink in the wash; in training, I couldn't get [them] over my calves because the socks were so small. I started wearing them underneath my calves in training and that season I ended up playing really well. It was just something that stuck because I'd had such a good season.

Do I do anything to maintain my calves? I actually don't. It's just something that runs in the family; my grandad always had big calves when he used to play football. Honestly, it's just something that I've had since I was young.

How well do you know Jack Grealish?

What position does Jack Grealish play?
He is a left-sided winger or attacking midfielder who likes to take on opponents; he has also been used as a 'false nine' by Pep Guardiola.

Which teams has Jack Grealish played for?
Grealish started his career at Aston Villa and joined Man. City on a permanent basis in 2021. He made his professional debut while on loan at third-tier Notts County on 14 September 2013 — just four days after his 18th birthday.

What nationality is Jack Grealish?
He was born in England and plays international football for England – as did his great-great-grandfather, Billy Garraty. However, he is also of Irish descent, and played Gaelic football from the ages of 10 to 14, representing the Republic of Ireland at Under-17, U18 and U21 levels before switching to England.

How many goals has Jack Grealish scored?
Notts County: 39 games in all competitions, 5 goals
Aston Villa: 213 games in all competions, 32 goals
Man. City: 29 games in all competitions, 4 goals
England: 18 games, one goal
He has scored once in his five appearances in UEFA club competition, all of those games in this season's UEFA Champions League.

What sort of music does Jack Grealish listen to?

I just listen to the most random music. Honestly, I can listen to R&B, hip-hop and house music. Then I could listen to [music from the] '80s, '90s. I'd say that R&B and hip-hop is probably what I listen to most; the likes of Drake, Travis Scott, Lil Baby — I listen to all of them.

England manager Gareth Southgate with Jack Grealish at UEFA EURO 2020
England manager Gareth Southgate with Jack Grealish at UEFA EURO 2020Getty Images

When Stormzy first came onto the scene — it must have been about six years ago — I tweeted him because I'd seen him online somewhere, saying something like, "Stormzy is the next up-and-coming [artist]," and he replied to me and we started following each other. Since then, we've kept in touch. We didn't plan to meet at Leeds Festival; we were backstage watching Jack Harlow and he was there and he said: "Come over to my set in a bit". Obviously I went over and I just ended up on stage with him! It was a bit of a blur, actually.

How good is Jack Grealish at FIFA on the PlayStation?

I'm very good at FIFA and I'm the best in the squad. No, do you know what, I haven't actually played a lot of the lads here. I think Zinner — [Oleksandr] Zinchenko — was telling me the other day that he was good. At Villa, obviously, I was the best. Out of my group of friends from home, I'm the best.

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