As Jack Grealish and James Maddison prepare to go head to head at Villa Park on Super Sunday, Sky Sports’ Pat Davison asks the duo to pick between footballing icons – and themselves!
Grealish and Maddison, friends and international team-mates with England, have been instrumental in helping Aston Villa and Leicester exceed expectations in the Premier League this season.
But who do they pick when asked to choose between footballing legends? And what do they put their individual improvement down to this season? Read on to find out.
Ronaldo or Messi?
Grealish: “Yeah, I’m going to have to say Messi.”
Ronaldinho or Zidane?
Maddison: Wow, that’s a tough one. I’m going to say Ronaldinho. What I remember are the flicks and the tricks and the flair of the Brazilians.”
Grealish: “For actual talent, I think it’s Zidane. I think he was unbelievable, the way he was so two-footed.”
Maradona or Pele?
Maddison: “Maradona. The way Maradona had the ball and dribbled and drifted past players – that’s ultimately what the best do and what people enjoy watching.”
Grealish: “Yeah, Maradona.”
Merson or Ginola?
Maddison: “I’m probably going to have to say Ginola on that one… Sorry, Merse!
Grealish: “Merson. I just loved him. I think he was a massive signing when he came to Villa, and in his days when he was at Arsenal, he was just one hell of a player.”
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Cantona or Bergkamp?
Maddison: “I’m going to have to go Cantona on that one. The swagger, the personality he played with.”
Grealish: “I’m going to have to say Bergkamp. I watched a video not long ago actually which was about four minutes long and was just of his first touches. Unbelievable.”
Xavi or Iniesta?
Maddison: “Iniesta for me.”
De Bruyne or Hazard?
Maddison: “Hazard was someone I just love watching. He was the one where I played against him and I thought, ‘I want his shirt for my wall’. And I know, actually, that Jack loves Kevin de Bruyne! He’s his favourite player.”
Grealish: “That’s just nasty! For me, for players that I’ve played against and players that have really wowed me when playing on the same pitch, it’s De Bruyne. So, I’m going to have to choose him.”
Gazza or Rooney?
Maddison: “Wayne Rooney is just an all-time great. Arguably the best Premier League player ever, for me.”
Grealish: “Oh, man. I might have to go Wazza.”
Maddison or Grealish?
Maddison: “Both of us! Jack’s a top, top player and a good friend of mine, so I can’t answer that one, Pat, sorry mate!
“I think sometimes you just appreciate quality. The first time I saw him play, I just knew he was a top player. You could tell. He’s got that way about him and plays with personality.
“Our manager, Brendan Rodgers, always talks about playing with personality and he is someone who definitely does that.”
Grealish: “Both, as well! Madders knows what I think of him as a player. He’s absolutely out of this world as a player.
“Probably one of the biggest compliments you could give him is by asking (Jamie) Vardy who he would want behind him from the players he has ever played with. I can guarantee that he would say Madders.
“He’s been brilliant, especially for the last two or three months. He said to me before he’s really been working on trying to score more.”
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Maddison: Carra comments got to me!
Maddison has added more goals to his game this season, scoring his 10th of the campaign in Leicester’s 3-1 win over Liverpool last weekend.
That goal makes this the highest-scoring season of his career and the 24-year-old admits he was determined to improve after hearing Jamie Carragher question his output on Sky Sports before Christmas.
“It got to me a little bit,” he said.
“I wanted to look at where I could get more chances, how I could be more proactive when I’m not actually involved with the ball at my feet, and the positions I could take up where I get the ball later in the move instead of always wanting to be on the ball earlier.”
Grealish: I only cared about looking good!
Grealish has been similarly effective, scoring six goals and providing 10 assists in the Premier League, and believes he is benefitting from a more mature outlook – as well as working on his final pass.
“When I was young, all I wanted to do was look good,” he said. “As I got older I thought, there’s no point just looking good.
“In the year where we got relegated, I played about 18 games and I think I got one goal and no assists. That’s no good, is it? Who wants to do that?
“I just wanted to become a better player for myself and put up better numbers and one thing that I work on – and the manager will tell you this – is my final ball.
“That is the one thing over the past eight to 10 months that I have tried to work on so much and it’s paid off.”
‘England blessed with so much young talent’
Grealish and Maddison are not the only young English creators shining this season, with Mason Mount and Phil Foden also impressing for Chelsea and Manchester City respectively ahead of this summer’s Euros.
“I know Phil and Mase are a bit younger than me and Madders, but we’re all youngish English players and we have a major tournament coming up,” said Grealish.
The quartet’s fine form raises questions over which players will get the nod from Gareth Southgate when the tournament comes around.
“You know what social media is like, it can cause a debate over anything, so obviously I can see why those comments are made but I don’t think any of us are alike at all, I really don’t,” added Grealish.
Maddison said: “Jack’s played on the left wing, Mason has played a little bit deeper and he was playing really high under Thomas Tuchel, Phil’s played out wide or as false nine, and I’ve played as a 10 and an eight.
“So it’s not like we’re all in the exact same position and you can compare each one, because we’re different. All I can do is just play my football for Leicester.
“That’s all I can control, to try and be in the best form I can be and be in the conversation and try to be selected in the squads.”
Grealish added: “I think England is just blessed at the moment to have so much talent and so much young talent coming through. I feel like this summer really could be a big summer for England.”
‘I hope he has an absolute stinker!’
Maddison and Grealish were also asked to send messages to each other ahead of Sunday’s game.
“I just hope you have an off day, to be honest!” Maddison said of Grealish.
“I’m sure we’ll have our plans in place to try and stop you influencing the game, but have a late night Saturday, anything like that to put you off!
“All the very best, but hopefully we can come away from Villa Park with three points.”
“The feeling’s mutual!” added Grealish. “I just hope he’s horrendous on the day and I hope he has an absolute stinker… But I’ll see you after mate!”
Watch Aston Villa vs Leicester live on Sky Sports Premier League HD from 1pm on Sunday; kick-off 2pm
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