Finlay’s joy at Jack Grealish’s ‘worm’ tribute: 11-year-old ‘amazed’ at England star’s celebration

Finlay’s joy at Jack Grealish’s ‘worm’ tribute: 11-year-old with cerebral palsy reveals he feared England hero would ‘forget’ his promise to do special celebration but was ‘amazed’ to see it during Three Lions’ 6-2 win over Iran

  • The footballer scored in the 89th minute of the Three Lions squad’s opener against Iran and stuck to his word
  • Last week the Manchester City star met Finlay, an 11-year-old superfan who written a letter to the midfielder
  • It was a dream come true for Finlay, who plays disability football and looks up to the Three Lions attacker
  • Finlay said he worried Grealish would forget his promise, but was ‘amazed’ to see the tribute celebration  
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

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A young England fan has said he was ‘amazed’ to see Jack Grealish dedicate his celebration to him after scoring against Iran at the World Cup in Qatar yesterday. 

England forward Grealish kept his promise to Finlay, 11, who has cerebral palsy, by doing the ‘worm’ celebration he asked for after scoring the Three Lions’ sixth goal in the 89th minute of their opening game in Doha.

The Manchester City star told Finlay he would do the celebration for him when they met last week after the 11 year-old wrote a letter to Grealish to praise him for raising awareness of cerebral palsy, a condition that affects movement and coordination.

It was a dream come true for Finlay, who plays disability football at Manchester City and idolises the England international. 

Finlay told the BBC’s Today programme: ‘At first I didn’t think he’d remember but then he did it and I was just like so happy, I thought he’d actually forget but he stuck to his word and stayed true. I was just amazed.’

The England superfan added he was sure the Three Lions would win the World Cup after they thrashed Iran 6-2 in their first game. 

Jack Grealish kept his promise to a young fan with cerebral palsy by dedicating his goal against Iran to him by doing the arm 'worm' celebration

Jack Grealish kept his promise to a young fan with cerebral palsy by dedicating his goal against Iran to him by doing the arm ‘worm’ celebration

Last week the Manchester City star met Finlay, an 11-year-old fan who written a letter to the midfielder to praise him for raising awareness of cerebral palsy

Last week the Manchester City star met Finlay, an 11-year-old fan who written a letter to the midfielder to praise him for raising awareness of cerebral palsy

Jack Grealish has previously spoken about his close relationship with his sister Hollie, 19, who also has cerebral palsy

Jack Grealish has previously spoken about his close relationship with his sister Hollie, 19, who also has cerebral palsy

He told Good Morning Britain: ‘I wanted to meet Jack Grealish because his sister also has cerebral palsy, so he knows what it’s like.

‘So I really wanted to get advice from him and speak to him and it really made me happy when I finally met him.’

Finlay also described how he overcomes his disability on a daily basis, saying: ‘You face lots of challenges every day, you have one hand to do everything all day. It can be tiring but you eventually do it.’

The fan’s letter to Grealish said: ‘To Jack, my name is Finlay and I am 11 years old. I am a huge Man City and England fan.

‘I have cerebral palsy and I saw that your sister has cerebral palsy too. Are you a good brother to her?

‘I love the way you are really good with your sister, you really get it. You always have her there with you and you look really proud. Especially when you won the league.’

It continued: ‘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 you, a famous footballer, know what it’s like to live with people with cerebral palsy.’

On his Instagram page after the England match, Jack Grealish said his goal and celebration was 'for you Finlay'

On his Instagram page after the England match, Jack Grealish said his goal and celebration was ‘for you Finlay’

Grealish does the arm 'worm' celebration dance after he made a promise to young Finlay following his goal against Iran

Grealish does the arm ‘worm’ celebration dance after he made a promise to young Finlay following his goal against Iran 

Jack Grealish kept his promise to a young fan with cerebral palsy by dedicating his goal against Iran to him by doing the arm 'worm' celebration

Jack Grealish kept his promise to a young fan with cerebral palsy by dedicating his goal against Iran to him by doing the arm ‘worm’ celebration

Finlay told Jack Grealish he wanted him to perform a specific celebration if he scored a goal at the World Cup

Finlay told Jack Grealish he wanted him to perform a specific celebration if he scored a goal at the World Cup

The youngster said that he loved to play football but described some of the difficulties he faced including not finding the right football boots and being slower than his peers due to his affected movement. 

He added: ‘My dad is really good and takes me to Man City on a Monday to train even though he supports [Man] United. He plays with me in the garden and he never lets me win – I will one day.’

Finlay wrote: ‘I can’t move as fast as my brain can see the pass. I don’t always get picked because I am slow or I get put in goal, I then get really frustrated, lose my temper, get upset and then get in trouble.’

He finished: ‘I hope you get this letter, you are my hero and the best big brother to your sister. 

‘It is my dream to meet you and give you a high five because I can’t hand shake.’

Responding to Finlay, 27-year-old Grealish arranged to meet the youngster and promised him that the next time he scored a goal, he would celebrate by doing a dance of Finlay’s choosing on the pitch. 

The 11-year-old was left overwhelmed as the Manchester City and England star came to visit him during training

The 11-year-old was left overwhelmed as the Manchester City and England star came to visit him during training

Finlay sent a letter to his footballing hero Jack Grealish as part of Premier League's Fan Mail

Finlay sent a letter to his footballing hero Jack Grealish as part of Premier League’s Fan Mail

The Manchester City superfan, pictured here playing football in his garden with his dad, trains every Monday with the club's disability team

The Manchester City superfan, pictured here playing football in his garden with his dad, trains every Monday with the club’s disability team 

Asking him to do the ‘worm’, Grealish laughed saying he would probably get injured and promised to do the arm ‘worm’ instead.

After scoring England’s sixth goal of the match, the footballer celebrated with his Three Lions team-mates and then performed the arm wiggle as promised.

Fans were quick to praise him on social media following the goal, calling him ‘an absolute legend’ and ‘man of his word’.

Others said the moment had brought ‘tears’ to their eyes after watching the heartwarming moment. 

During the video Grealish opened up about his ‘close relationship’ with his sister Hollie, 19, who also has cerebral palsy.

In his reply to Finlay, he gave a heartfelt tribute to his younger sibling, 19, saying: ‘I love her so much’.

Sweet: 'They said that she wouldn't be able to talk, she wouldn't be able to walk, and do a lot of stuff but here we are and she can do everything,' he continued

Sweet: ‘They said that she wouldn’t be able to talk, she wouldn’t be able to walk, and do a lot of stuff but here we are and she can do everything,’ he continued

Jack shared: 'I'm so close with my little sister. Hollie is 19 now, she was born three months premature'

Jack shared: ‘I’m so close with my little sister. Hollie is 19 now, she was born three months premature’

Letters: Reading the letter aloud, the Manchester City player read: 'To Jack, My name is Finlay and I am 11 years old. I am a huge Man City fan and England Fan. I have cerebral palsy and I saw hat your sister has cerebral palsy too

Letters: Reading the letter aloud, the Manchester City player read: ‘To Jack, My name is Finlay and I am 11 years old. I am a huge Man City fan and England Fan. I have cerebral palsy and I saw hat your sister has cerebral palsy too

Gifts: The footballer wrote his young fan a reply back, alongside a signed football shirt

Gifts: The footballer wrote his young fan a reply back, alongside a signed football shirt

Talking to the camera, Jack explained: ‘I’m so close with my little sister. Hollie is 19 now, she was born three months premature.

‘They said that she wouldn’t be able to talk, she wouldn’t be able to walk, and do a lot of stuff but here we are and she can do everything.

‘Obviously I love her so much, yeah I think I’m a good big brother to her,’ he laughed. 

Grealish has spoken previously on his relationship with younger sister Hollie, taking to Instagram on her birthday to gush: ‘Keep being you and the happy little girl you are’. 

Earlier this year he was appointed a principal ambassador for the Special Olympics GB in a bid to drive greater inclusivity in sport. 

He said: ‘I’ve been thinking for some time about how I can best use the platform football has given me to create a positive change, and it had to be something really close to my heart.’

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