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A mix of Beckham and Gazza, Man City’s Grealish emerges as the face of English football

Armed with the boyish charm and commercialization of David Beckham and the skills and play of Paul Gascoigne, Jack Grealish has a potent combination that has seen him quickly emerge as the face of English football.

Now that he’s starting to add trophies to his growing list of endorsements that already include Gucci and Puma, the possibilities seem endless for the Manchester City winger, who is the most expensive English footballer of all time.

Grealish, the one with the bulging calf muscles and slicked-back hair, was already a popular property in the English game before his 2021 move from Aston Villa to City for a £100m (then $139m) deal that brought his attractiveness to a new level.

Nearing the end of his second season at City, the 27-year-old Grealish has finally established himself as a key part of a Premier League-winning side looking to clinch the second leg of a major title treble this season by beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

However, he is much more than a soccer player these days.

“People like Jack Grealish are the new icons of the sports lifestyle,” Alan Seymour, a sports academic and business and marketing author, told The Associated Press. “As he has matured and become more in tune with what is required of him as a footballer, on and off the pitch, that is why he ranks right up there with the best sports personalities in terms of marketability, not just in football but off. of soccer. .” Elements of the wild child image that shadowed him in the early years of his career remain.

At the height of the lockdown amid the pandemic, Grealish was found slurring after crashing his car on a housing estate and was then banned from driving for nine months. Then there were those images of him playing a prominent role in City’s Premier League title celebrations last year, when he was seen drinking a beer and, teary-eyed and raspy in his voice, taking aim at Newcastle midfielder Miguel. Almiron who won a lot. air time

Grealish shamelessly accepts that it is. He recently said that he could have been a nightclub promoter if he wasn’t a soccer player and that he would always be prone to the kind of excesses that mean he embodies the spirit of a normal soccer fan.

But the adorable and charming part of Grealish’s personality is inescapable. He shines in every interview he does—he pinches himself that he’s a soccer professional, playing the likes of Real Madrid in the Champions League—and in his public friendship with a young City fan named Finley, who he has cerebral palsy. He is a popular member of the City squad, forming a particularly close relationship with superstar striker Erling Haaland off the pitch.

“I feel much more confident in this team,” said Grealish, who sat out many of City’s big games last season as he adjusted to the demands of manager Pep Guardiola. “I feel fitter and I return to what I know, to what I can do. That’s why City bought me and I have so much to offer.” Big brands think so too. He is an ambassador for the Gucci fashion house and Bose audio equipment, and this year signed a boot deal with Puma that is reportedly the most lucrative for a British player, worth around £10m. per season for the next five years.

He has 7 million followers on Instagram and 4.2 million on TikTok. The British press is even beginning to compare Grealish and his girlfriend, model Sasha Attwood, to David and Victoria Beckham, and the way Grealish wears a boy band-style hand band to manage his hair. loose encourages comparisons to Beckham, even if their style of play is vastly different.

“He has boyish charm and likability, that mischievous, mischievous element to him,” Seymour said. “If I put it in marketing terms, you have a point of difference and a point of parity: your point of difference is your appeal.

“The synergy (with Beckham) is clearly there,” he added. “But an athlete always says I don’t want to be compared, I want to be the new one, I am.” I think Jack Grealish will always go out of his way to point that out. He is exposing himself and that is what the sponsors are looking for ”. Comparisons to Gascoigne, the mercurial central midfielder who helped England reach the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup and Euro 1996, are in the way Grealish carries the ball with such speed and directness that it is constantly one of the players with the most fouls. in the Premier League.

Grealish knows he needs to score more goals and provide more assists to qualify as one of the best attackers in the world, but his technique and first touch rank right up there with the best players in the game.

Guardiola values, in particular, the control that Grealish gives the team from his place on the left of the team’s three forwards and that, plus his work rate, is why he is now a first-choice pick for the most important games.

Like the FA Cup final on Saturday and the Champions League final against Inter Milan the following weekend.

“We still have some massive games left,” Grealish said, “and we feel unstoppable.”

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