Trevor Sinclair has slammed Roy Keane for accusing Jack Grealish of not wanting to take a penalty in the Euro 2020 final and believes his comments smacked of ‘sour grapes’ after the Aston Villa captain ditched the Republic of Ireland to play for England.
Stalwart Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci cancelled out Luke Shaw’s early opening goal in Sunday’s showpiece at Wembley and it was Roberto Mancini’s men who prevailed after extra time and a nail-biting shootout.
Harry Kane and Harry Maguire both held their nerve and scored their spot-kicks before Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho missed which left it up to 19-year-old Arsenal forward, Saka, to convert from 12 yards.
But the youngster’s decisive effort was comfortably saved by an inspired Gianluigi Donnarumma to ensure the visitors got their hands on a European Championship trophy for a second time, while the Three Lions’ 55-year wait for major silverware continued.
Grealish was brought on for Mason Mount in the ninth minute of extra time and though the midfielder is renowned for his superb ball-striking ability, Gareth Southgate opted against selecting him in the shootout – and confirmed as much after the final whistle.
But former Manchester United captain Keane criticised both Raheem Sterling and Grealish for just ‘sitting there’ and letting a teenager take a penalty ahead of them in such a high-stakes situation.
‘If you’re Sterling or Grealish you cannot sit there and have a young kid walk up ahead of you,’ Keane said on ITV Sport.
‘You can’t sit there and see a young kid, 19, a child walk up in front of me when I’ve played a lot more games, and got a lot more experience.’
Grealish himself took to Twitter to confirm it was Southgate’s decision not to give him a spot-kick and ex-England international Sinclair has come out in support of the Villa midfielder, criticising Keane for speaking without knowing the whole story.
‘As we all know, Roy Keane has got an opinion. But you can’t just accept that knowing it’s not the truth,’ Sinclair said on talkSPORT.
‘Roy Keane’s not privileged, we are not privileged at talkSPORT to know what was going on in those meetings when we’re talking about penalties.
‘I believe Jack. I don’t think he’s a shrinking violet. He’s a player who steps up to the plate. When you want to make a name for yourself, that’s when you step up.
‘I think with Roy Keane, with the fact Jack Grealish left the Irish squad, went to the England squad, I think there’s a little bit of sour grapes there personally.’
Rashford, Sancho and Saka were all subjected to horrific racist abuse in the wake of their missed penalties which has led to increased pressure on social media companies to better tackle online hate, much of which comes via anonymous accounts.
In a statement on Monday, the FA called on social media bosses to ‘step up’ and introduce the appropriate legislation to eradicate such ‘abhorrent’ messages.
‘We strongly condemn all forms of discrimination and are appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media,’ it said.
‘We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team.
‘We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.
‘We will continue to do everything we can to stamp discrimination out of the game, but we implore government to act quickly and bring in the appropriate legislation so this abuse has real life consequences.
‘Social media companies need to step up and take accountability and action to ban abusers from their platforms, gather evidence that can lead to prosecution and support making the platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse.’