England’s Jack Grealish leaves ‘best friend’ Finlay ‘inspired’ after dedicating World Cup goal to him
The Manchester City star scored in England’s 6-2 thrashing of Iran in Qatar on Monday.
England’s Jack Grealish kept his promise to a young fan after he marked his first World Cup goal with a special celebration.
Grealish tapped home the Three Lions’ final goal from close-range as they despatched Iran 6-2 on Monday, marking the moment with a broad smile as he stretched his arms out to the side and rolled them in waves.
Far from this being a flippant or spontaneous reaction, the Manchester City forward was actually keeping a pledge he made to an 11-year-old boy called Finlay, who has cerebral palsy.
City and England fan Finlay wrote to his favourite player earlier this year, referencing Grealish’s close bond with sister Holly, who also has the condition.
Speaking to GB News, Finlay and his dad Daniel, told Martin Daubney and Isabel Webster he was “so excited” after seeing the celebration.
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw Jack Grealish. It made my day. My whole year, actually.”
Finlay added: “I thought that he’d forget, but when he did it I was cheering. I was so excited!”
Father Daniel said: “It was unreal. The fact he remembered, it just meant so much to Fin.”
Explaining why he reached out to the former Aston Villa player, Finlay told GB News: “I wanted to have a conversation with Jack because he really inspires me, because his sister also has cerebral palsy. He knows what it’s like.”
“I really get along with him because he helps me and he gives me more confidence to play football.”
Writing to the England star through the Premier League, Finaly wrote: “I wish there were more people in the world just like you who treat people with disabilities the same as anyone else”
Grealish followed up with a letter of his own and also made a surprise visit to meet Finlay in person at a football session run by the City In The Community programme.
It was there that he pledged to dedicate his next goal to Finlay, who initially suggested the more challenging dance move ‘the worm’ before settling on the arm gesture Grealish recreated in Qatar.
Grealish also took to Twitter after the victory over Iran to send a message that read, “For you Finlay,” alongside a clip of the original video and a picture of his celebration.
England manager Gareth Southgate hailed Grealish for his gesture.
Southgate said: “He’s a lovely human being. He obviously has a situation with his own sister and that would mean that he’s very aware of the power he can have.
“He’s a kind person, so we’re very fortunate. We work with a group of players who have a hunger to play, they’re a pleasure to work with.
“They have humility, but they also think about this and it’s unusual to have a group like we’ve got.”
Finlay also told GB News that football would be coming home: “I think England are going to win the World Cup!”
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