Jack Grealish’s goal celebration after scoring for England against Iran at the World Cup in Qatar “made the year” of the young fan with cerebral palsy to whom he dedicated it.
Grealish performed an arm-wiggling, ‘worm’ celebration after netting the Three Lions’s sixth goal during the stunning 6-2 opening win, tapping home following Callum Wilson’s selfless pass.
It was the celebration he had promised 11-year-old Manchester City fan Finlay Fisher that he would do the next time he scored, when he met the youngster at the club’s training ground earlier this year as part of a football session run by the City In the Community programme.
Finlay – who has cerebral palsy, a condition Grealish’s sister Holly also has – had sent the midfielder a letter calling him his favourite player and a “hero” and was ecstatic that his “best friend” kept his promise on football’s biggest stage.
Speaking to GB News, Finlay said: “I couldn’t believe it [when Grealish did the celebration], it made my day. It made my year actually. Jack really inspires me because he knows what it’s like. I think I really get along with him because he helps me with things. And it gives me more confidence to play football.
“When he scored I thought he might forget, but then obviously when he did it, I was cheering. I was so excited. I got it on record as well.
“He’s my best friend. And also, Callum Wilson for assisting Jack Grealish is also a legend. I think we are going to win the World Cup! I hope it catches – I think the whole England team needs to go worm crazy.”
Finlay’s original letter to Grealish read: “I wish there were more people in the world just like you who treat people with disabilities the same as anyone else.
“It makes me really happy when I see that you, a famous footballer, knows what it’s like to live with people with cerebral palsy. You’re my hero and the best big brother to your sister.”
That led to the pair meeting up and Grealish pledging to dedicate his next goal to Finlay, who initially suggested the more challenging dance move “the worm” before settling on a simpler arm gesture.
“First of all, I’ve got to try and score, then I’ll do it for you, but I’ve only scored once this season,” Grealish said, in a video captured by the Premier League. “I’ll do it for you, I promise, next time I score.”
Reflecting on the original letter he sent to Jack, Finlay told GB News: “Jack’s sister was born with cerebral palsy. People don’t quite understand the struggles that we will go through on a daily basis, you know, things are a lot harder. And it’s just nice to make people aware.”
The moment against Iran didn’t pass by unnoticed online, as BBC Sport tweeted: “What a celebration from Jack Grealish 11-year-old Finlay asked him to do this celebration if he scored at the World Cup… he delivered!”
The official Premier league account followed with a smiling face emoji and noting the midfielder had “kept his promise to Finlay”.
Bukayo Saka scored twice, while Jude Bellingham, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rahsford also netted in addition to Grealish as England’s World Cup campaign got off to the perfect start in Doha.