How 16 scoops of ice cream helped Jack Grealish get over World Cup heartbreak
Jack Grealish has revealed how his impressive post-World Cup form has been powered by 16 scoops of ice cream on a Home Alone 2 tour of New York.
And having ticked a Home Alone-inspired Christmas trip to the Big Apple off his personal bucket list, Grealish wants to achieve another ambition and win a major tournament with England.
Grealish is part of the England squad for the team’s first European Championship qualifiers against Italy in Naples on Thursday night and Ukraine at Wembley on Sunday.
The 27-year-old only had 11 days between England’s World Cup quarter-final defeat to France in Qatar and his first game back with Manchester City, as a substitute against Liverpool in a League Cup victory.
But rather than suffering a World Cup hangover, Grealish has produced some of the best form of his City career since returning from Qatar, scoring against Manchester United and Arsenal, and winning the club’s Player of the Month award for February.
Asked how he lifted himself so quickly from the disappointment of the World Cup, Grealish credited his trip to New York, where he toured some of the famous sites of his favourite film, Home Alone 2.
“We all had our different time off, I think the manager gave us eight or nine days,” said Grealish. “I didn't actually do a lot of running or anything because I just felt I needed a little break.”
Grealish and his girlfriend booked into the famous Plaza Hotel in New York, where the lead character Kevin McCallister stayed in Home Alone 2 and famously spent $967 bill on his dad's credit card, splashing out on ice cream and bubble baths.
The Plaza offers guests a Home Alone 2 experience, which includes a gigantic sundae of 16 scoops of ice cream, whipped cream, maraschino cherries, M&Ms, brownie bits, chocolate, caramel and raspberry sauce.
The package also includes a four-hour-long limousine ride around the filming locations, such as the Empire State Building and Central Park, while guests chew on a large cheese pizza – just as Kevin did.
“I was in New York with the missus,” said Grealish. “I stayed in the (same) hotel! You could get some mad room service, like 16 scoops of ice cream. Like what he got in the film.
“Someone had told me about it (the tour), so we went round Central Park. I've watched it so many times. I’ve got an addictive kind of personality and I love that film, man.
“It's every Christmas isn't it? So four or five times each year. I never realised how much stuff had been filmed there, in Central Park, so I felt like a right little tourist. I was in the back of the carriage thing and every now and again someone would say 'I swear that's Jack Grealish'. I was saying ‘Mate! Quick! Speed up!’ I loved it.
“My mom’s always made Christmas so special for me growing up, so I’ve always loved it and I’ve always wanted to go to New York around Christmas time. But, obviously, because of football we’ve never been able to. It was like a little bucket list moment. I loved it.”
Asked if he had not been tempted to stay in his City manager Pep Guardiola’s house in New York, Grealish joked: “I didn’t know he had lived there, but I wouldn’t have got my ice cream then.”
Grealish felt the effects of his 16 scoops of ice cream when he first returned to City, but has since benefitted from being thrown straight back in at the deep end by Guardiola.
“I went back into training on the Wednesday and we were playing Liverpool on the Thursday in the (League) Cup,” explained Grealish. “I thought ‘There's no chance I'll be involved’. Then in the 70th minute, he (Guardiola) tells me ‘Jack, you're going on’. I was like ‘f------ hell!’ because I was blowing out of my arse! Luckily we went on to win.”
On his improved form for City this season, Grealish said: “I was speaking to Rio Ferdinand and he asked me are you doing anything different? I’m actually not. I genuinely can’t put my finger on it.
“I feel I am in the best form, especially since I moved to City. I think it’s confidence, really. If you were to ask me one thing I probably would say confidence. At the moment, I just feel a bit like I did when I was at Aston Villa. I feel like one of the main players, and I feel that playing a lot, it is the fittest I have been, especially since I have been at Man City. That comes down to playing a lot of games on the bounce and playing in big games, just making an impact really, scoring against Arsenal and United, getting assists at Chelsea away and then Arsenal at home in the cup, big games like that. I’m really confident at the moment.”
Grealish highlighted bucket list targets for this season for club and country that he is aiming to tick off, having completed the Home Alone tour of New York.
“Win the Champions League,” replied Grealish to the question of what’s left on his bucket list. “The Euros, definitely. That is what we all want to do.
“We have come close so many times. The last three tournaments have been a semi-final, a final and then the quarters. I think it is obvious what we want to do and I think we are getting better and better.
“The players are coming through and playing with so much confidence. I feel like the next one really could be our one. Everyone will be in their prime. I actually feel old at the moment, but when I think about it, I will only be 28 at the Euros. It’s no secret that we all want to win a tournament – and I do think it is there to be done.”