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Grealish hits back after penalty-kick criticism

Grealish hits back after Mourinho, Keane criticize England's senior players for not taking penalty

July 12, 2021 By Ali M.
The likes of Grealish, Sterling, Shaw, and Stones were slammed for not stepping up in place of youngster Bukayo Saka in the shootout loss.

The England players are reeling from the aftermath of their Euro 2020 final defeat, with one man in particular letting out his emotions on Twitter in the morning after that heartbreak. That man is none other than Jack Grealish, with the Aston Villa sensation hitting back at critics who have accused him of backing out from the penalty shootout.

Sunday's Euro 2020 final sadly ended in heartbreak for the Three Lions as they lost to Italy at home in the title-deciding fixture. The tie got off to a great start for Southgate's men, with Luke Shaw giving them the lead after only two minutes, but Harry Kane and Co. could not hold on, conceding the equalizer just after the hour mark.

Both teams had a chance or two to win the game in normal and added time, but it remained one-all for the 120 minutes, thus forcing the match into penalty shootout. It wasn't meant to be for the home side, however, as a Marcus Rashford miss and Gianluigi Donnarumma's save against Sancho and Saka saw the Azzurri emerge triumphant. 

The spot kicks sparked much controversy and anger as many were baffled by the decision to hand the fifth and final attempt to Bukayo Saka, the promising but inexperienced 19-year-old who has never taken a senior penalty. Several of England's more experienced players were heavily criticized for not stepping up in place of the Arsenal kid given that it was a do-or-die penalty, with Roy Keane and Jose Mourinho, two prominent Euro 2020 pundits, slamming the likes of Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Luke Shaw, and John Stones as they were yet to take a spot kick.

"If you're Grealish or Sterling, you can't have a young kid step up in front of you," Keane said on ITV, as per the Daily Mail

"You can't sit there and say 'I see a 19-year-old kid walk in front of me, when I've played a lot more games, a lot more experience...' and Sterling, who has won trophies."

The Special One was more ruthless with his analysis, telling talkSPORT: "In this situation, where was Raheem Sterling? Where was John Stones? 

"Where was Luke Shaw? Why didn't Jordan Henderson or Kyle Walker stay on the pitch?

"I think it's too much for a kid to have everything on his shoulders in this moment, but I don't know, I have to ask that question to Gareth because many times what happens is that players who should be there are not there, players who should be there, they run away from the responsibility."

The Portuguese tactician went on to suggest that a few of the aforementioned players "ran away or hid" from taking a penalty. However, these comments did not sit well with Jack Grealish, who is hurting from that defeat, as he took to Twitter to slam those claims and clear his name of any wrongdoing.

"I said I wanted to take one!" the Man City target wrote.

"The gaffer has made so many right decisions through this tournament and he did tonight! But I won't have people say that I didn't want to take a peno (penalty) when I said I will…"

Gareth Southgate issued a similar sentiment in his post-match interviews, defending his players and assuming all responsibility for the penalty shootout debacle, saying: "That is my responsibility. I chose the guys to take the kicks. I told the players that nobody is on their own in that situation. We win and lose together as a team. They have been tight throughout and that's how it needs to stay. It is my decision to give him that penalty. That is totally my responsibility. It is not him or Marcus or Jadon. We worked through them in training. That is the order we came to.

"What they have to know is none of them are on their own. We win and lose as a team. Penalties are my call. We worked in training. It's not down to the players. Tonight it hasn't gone for us. We know they were the best takers we had left on the pitch. Of course it's going to be heartbreaking for the boys but they are not to blame for that."


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