England midfielder Jack Grealish says he is delighted to be compared to Three Lions favourite Paul Gascoigne.
Aston Villa’s Grealish was man of the match on his first international start on Thursday against Wales.
The 25-year-old’s bursts from midfield have seen pundits such as Steve McLaren and Martin Keown compare him to Gazza, who won 57 England caps and shone at the 1990 World Cup and Euro 96.
“I don’t really see myself as him but I’d love to be like him, the way that he played football,” Grealish said.
“I would love to get compared to Gazza. I think he is an absolute icon. Him, along with Wayne Rooney, was probably one of the greatest England players over the last 30 years.
“There have been a load but if they were the top two, Gazza would be my first.”
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Grealish says Gazza played the game with “such joy”, something he would like to replicate.
“One of the biggest compliments for people to say to you is that you make them happy watching football,” said the Villa captain.
Grealish, who made his debut for boyhood club Villa in 2012, is enjoying an outstanding spell of form, but his rise to the national team has not been straightforward.
He was sent home from an England boys camp after collapsing and then went on to play for the Republic of Ireland at youth level.
“I played for them because of how much I enjoyed it, but as I got older I realised I am English, my family is English and in the future that’s what I want to do,” he said.
Grealish will now hope he has done enough to earn a starting spot in Gareth Southgate’s England side when they face world number one side Belgium in the Nations League on Sunday (kick-off 17:00 BST) before hosting Denmark on Wednesday (19:45).
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