Men's Team

Jack Grealish: Pep Guardiola would have loved Stephen Ireland

Could Stephen Ireland have played in Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team?

That is the question put to Jack Grealish at the end of the new CITY+ feature film chronicling Ireland’s time at the Club and the England international’s response is unequivocal.

Grealish is certain that Ireland, with his touch, vision and tireless work rate, is a player Guardiola would have loved to have worked with.


“Of course, 100%,” City’s No.10 replies when asked in the final moments of Ireland is Superman.

“He is so technically gifted, Pep would obviously love him. Playing in this team is a pleasure to do for me personally and I am sure Stevie Ireland would love to be involved in it.”

It is a sign of the high esteem in which Ireland is held at the Etihad Stadium that such a question is even discussed in CITY+’s latest offering.

In the years immediately before City established itself at the top table of European football, the Academy graduate from the Republic of Ireland was one of the Club’s most popular and influential players.

A mercurial talent, he reached his peak in 2008-09, scoring 13 times in 50 matches across all competitions and was immortalised in City folklore with the terrace chant from which the film takes its title after dropping his shorts to reveal Superman underpants following a goal against Sunderland. 

Ireland is Superman

Ireland made 175 appearances in total, before leaving for Aston Villa in 2010, where his natural ability and dedicated approach made him the ideal role model for future City playmaker Grealish, who was coming through Villa’s academy at the time.

The two remain in contact today and Ireland shared the delight of all City fans when the 26-year-old arrived at the Etihad Stadium this summer.

“There are so many players that we have both played with that say he is the best trainer out of everyone I’ve seen,” he added.

“As soon as there was talk that he was going to sign for Villa, it was big.

“At the time I was a No.10 coming through at Villa, so he was someone I really looked up to. He always gave us good information and he was good with the young lads.

“I still speak to him now a fair bit and he was happy when I signed here because he sent me a lovely message.”

Ireland is Superman is available to watch now on CITY+ and features contributions from Grealish, Elano, Nedum Onuoha, Esme Morgan and, of course, the man himself.

Find out more about CITY+ and how you can subscribe, here.