Jack Grealish has explained why he did not take a penalty in England’s Euro 2020 final shootout defeat by Italy and dismissed claims by Roy Keane that he should have hit one.
The Aston Villa playmaker was introduced nine minutes into extra-time as the Three Lions searched for a winner. However, with the game ending 1-1 it went to penalties but Grealish did not step up.
While Harry Kane and Harry Maguire converted their spot-kicks and Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made two saves to deny the Italians, Marcus Rahsford hit the post while Jadon Sancho’s effort was stopped by Gianluigi Donnarumma.
It was then up to Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka to hit the decisive penalty but Donnarumma again guessed the right way.
At just 19, the Gunners winger was handed the responsibility of taking the fifth kick for his country despite having never taken a penalty for his club side before.
Former Manchester United skipper Keane lambasted the England senior players who step-up ahead of Saka and said: “If you’re (Raheem) Sterling or (Jack) Grealish, you cannot sit there and have a young kid [Saka] go up for a penalty ahead of you, you can’t.
“You cannot let a shy 19-year-old go up in front of you. They have a lot more experience, Sterling has won trophies, they had to get in front of the young kid and stand up.”
However, Grealish was quick to defend himself on Monday morning. Taking to Twitter and sharing a link of Keane’s quotes, the 25-year-old insisted, “I said I wanted to take one!!!!
“The gaffer (Gareth Southgate) 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 when I said I will…”
After the match, Southgate explained it was his decision on who would take penalties in the shootout and said, “It is down to me. I decided on the penalty-takers based on what they have done in training.
“Nobody is on their own. We have won together as a team and it is on all of us together to not be able to win this game.
“In terms of penalties, it is my call and it totally rests with me.”