Scotland defender Stephen O’Donnell has revealed the new way he blocked Jack Grealish from making a winning impact for England at Wembley on Friday night. On the advice of Grealish’s teammate at Aston Villa, John McGinn, O’Donnell kindly killed the English replacement.
O’Donnell has been widely praised for his performance in the goalless draw, with Scotland manager Steve Clarke calling Motherwell full-back “outstanding”.
Grealish’s introduction in the 63rd minute was designed to break the deadlock, but Scotland held on. O’Donnell shed light on some of the method behind this.
“At this point in the game, I was starting to get a little fed up,” said O’Donnell, especially regarding the reservation he received for a tough challenge on Grealish. “He was starting to play, he had just come in and was nice and fresh,” the defender told the Scottish team’s YouTube channel.
“Normally new wingers come in and you feel a bit tired. I just thought, ‘I’m going to have to hit him here.’ I was sick of him trying to take the mickey from me. I gave it a little nudge.
“Fortunately, John McGinn had given me some advice. He told me that if he did happen, I had to nibble on his ear, but don’t be critical, be complimentary. So the second he arrived, I told him how handsome he was, that I loved his calves and asked him how he made his hair look like this. I was told that if you kick him or push him really hard he will get up and attack you. It was perhaps the best way to reach Jack Grealish the other night.
Confidence reigns within the Scottish side ahead of Croatia’s visit to Hampden Park on Tuesday. A victory for Scotland should be enough to qualify for the round of 16, despite the whims of the other groups.
“We went to Wembley to stay in the competition. We managed to do it, ”said O’Donnell. “The performance was very good but the most important thing at this level is the result. Getting the draw that gave us the opportunity to go until Tuesday to qualify was huge. There is relief, we are still in there and there is more belief.
“We think that we are a very good team and that we have good players in the team. Hopefully this will give us even more confidence to finish Croatia. “