For every minute Jack Grealish doesn’t play at Euro 2020, the need for him increases. A cynical view, perhaps, and certainly not a criticism of a player who turned the last 16 tie with Germany into England’s favour. Grealish’s rather unique style of play has fans across the country, desperate for international tournament success, chanting his name as soon the television cameras pan to him sat on the bench.
Indeed, if England do go on to win the tournament, then the Aston Villa captain’s stock will rise exponentially. As a maverick in an otherwise cautious team, Grealish is the standout player for the club he adores and has the kind of genius to come on and change a massive game for his country.
Despite not playing in the first or third games of the tournament, Grealish’s life could change forever after the European Championships. Linked with a major money to Manchester City, he will be an icon for both club and country forever if football does indeed come home.
International tournaments simply have the power to do that and the Aston Villa captain certainly won’t be alone in experiencing that kind of meteoric rise. With that in mind, here are five other players who capitalised on international tournament success to earn big moves.
5 players who converted international tournament success into a transfer
Gilberto Silva might not be anywhere near as exciting a player as Grealish (or some of the names further down this list) but there’s no doubt he took his chance at the 2002 World Cup to cement himself as a legend.
After Emerson was injured, Silva made himself a mainstay for the Selecao and lifted the biggest trophy in the game, earning himself a move to Arsenal where he would write himself into English footballing folklore as part of their Invincibles team.
Like Grealish, Sami Khedira was playing for a slightly less fashionable team than he’d go onto represent when he burst onto the international stage.
Hometown club Stuttgart had won the Bundesliga, although that was before the age of the superclub had really kicked in (while not to downplay the achievement) but the midfielder was only a late replacement for Michael Ballack in the squad for the 2010 World Cup.
Alongside Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller, Khedira made a huge impact as this young Germany team made it to the semi-finals, earning himself a move to Real Madrid.
Arguably the standout player in Portugal’s surprise Euro 2016 win, Renato Sanches really hit the big time that summer and won the young player of the tournament award, albeit he had already moved by the time the tournament kicked off.
A prodigious talent with Benfica beforehand, his assured performances in the middle of the park came off the back of a huge move to Bayern Munich as his country bored their way to an iconic (if a little dull) victory over France in Paris.
Of course, his career would suffer the indignation of a loan to Swansea City soon after but, during that summer of 2016, Sanches looked a world-beater. Only now is he getting back on track and, following more international tournament success at Euro 2020, has he earnt another big move?
James Rodriguez wasn’t exactly an unknown when he moved to Real Madrid in 2014 but it’s fair to say he reached a different level after finishing as the World Cup’s Golden Boot winner that year.
A £71m switch to the Champions League soon followed as the then-Monaco star joined the Galacticos, although the move never really worked out. For that brief period in 2014, however, he looked like he could hit the next level.
Wayne Rooney’s career might have gone very differently if he was not injured during England’s Euro 2004 campaign.
Granted, it’s not as if Manchester United and England’s record goalscorer had a bad career, of course, although perhaps we would have seen his latter-day struggles in a different light if the crest of a wave he was riding took his country to glory that summer.
As fearless as they come and looking like a seasoned professional in a teenage body, Rooney’s Euro 2004 exploits saw him join Sir Alex Ferguson’s side over Newcastle United (that close shave must still send shivers down his spine) where he would cement himself a legend of the English game. Bursting onto the scene with such incredible international tournament success, Rooney never quite reached the same heights again for England despite eventually becoming their record goalscorer.
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