Jack Grealish is aiming to steer England to Euro 2020 glory as he insists the nerves will not strike on the big stage like they did on his driving test.
The 25-year-old will be hoping the Three Lions can play with the handbrake off as he heads to his first major tournament with no regrets over changing his international allegiance from the Republic of Ireland.
The Birmingham-born playmaker had been capped six times at Under-21 level for Ireland before opting to represent the Three Lions in 2015.
The decision caused a backlash against Grealish from the nation he had left behind, and the wisdom of the call could have been questioned given he had to wait five years to make his senior England debut.
But the Aston Villa captain would ultimately be vindicated when he was called up by Gareth Southgate for the Nations League double-header against Iceland and Denmark last September.
He made his bow against the latter and has since gone on to win seven caps and was given the green light for Southgate’s squad at the European Championship.
With Grealish now set to grace a big international stage, he has the belief he can shine and not be struck by anxiety like he was when he first got behind the wheel.
Asked if he had suffered from nerves in the past, Grealish replied: “My driving test. I hated it.
“Do you know what? I had to be at Villa after actually, we were leading up to the FA Cup final and I still wasn’t driving.
“So I think it was the Thursday and the final was on the Saturday, and they wanted me in. I had my driving test and straight away, as soon as I pulled out of the test centre, I stalled the car, and I knew that I’d failed.
“So I just said to the guy after two minutes: ‘Have I failed mate?’. He was like: ‘No come on carry on’, but I knew that I failed so I just got out of the car and went to training.”
Grealish has never suffered from stage fright when on the football pitch and puts that down to being more confident in his ability on the ball than he had in his early driving lessons.
“Because I’m confident in my ability,” he said when asked why it is different on the pitch. “Obviously more than I was confident in my driving ability.
“With football, I just try and go out and play. At the end of the day I’ve done it my whole life. I’ve done it every day in training and I’ve done it as a kid, playing in these games.
“So when I step onto the pitch, playing a big game, I just tell myself it’s just a game of football, what I’ve done my whole life, so I just take it in my stride, I don’t change anything, I just go with the flow.”
It was during his younger playing days that Grealish turned out for the Republic of Ireland youth teams, having qualified through his grandparents.
Asked if he felt turning down a senior Republic of Ireland call-up now felt worthwhile, Grealish replied: “As I got older, I started playing obviously at Villa, in the first-team, I broke through.
“And there was a time when I thought: ‘Obviously I am English, my parents were born in England, I was obviously born in England, so I feel English’.
“So yes, I obviously changed to England and since then I never looked back. I’ve enjoyed every moment that I’ve had here. And I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t.”
Grealish also recounted a story of how and why he had initially chosen to play for the Republic of Ireland.
“When I was young, I got asked to play for England and Ireland at a tournament,” he said.
“I got asked to play for both, I went away to play for England, I was in my room and I collapsed, the day before we were meant to be training and I got sent home.
“I was just in the bathroom and I woke up on the floor. I don’t actually know what happened, I don’t know if it was nerves or whatever, I’m not actually too sure, but the next day I was obviously fine, ready to go and train, but obviously for medical reasons I couldn’t.
“Then during that time I went to Ireland to trial there and I played and I just loved it. That’s one thing that I’ve always said, when you’re younger you just do what makes you happy. And I loved every moment that I had there. I was just a young kid enjoying my football.”