Scotland defender Stephen O’Donnell was pleased his cunning plan to stifle England midfielder Jack Grealish paid off in Friday’s 0-0 Euro 2020 draw at Wembley.
Grealish made a much-anticipated arrival from the bench after 63 minutes of the Group D fixture, replacing Phil Foden to a rapturous response from the home crowd.
O’Donnell says he sought advice from Grealish’s Aston Villa team-mate John McGinn, and although the right back picked up a booking late in the game he was glad to keep the 25-year-old quiet.
In an interview with the Scottish FA social media channel, O’Donnell said: “By that stage of the game I was starting to get a wee bit fed up.
“He was starting to play, he had just come on and was nice and fresh.
Stephen O'Donnell revealed what went on between him and Jack Grealish on this morning's #ScotlandHQ – and the tips he'd been given from John McGinn… 😂
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) June 20, 2021
“Normally, when fresh wingers come on and you feel a bit tired I just thought I am going to need to hit him here. I was fed up of him trying to take the Mickey out of me. I gave him a wee hit.
“Thankfully, John McGinn had given me some tips. He told me that if he comes on I need to get nibbling in his ear but don’t be critical, be complementary.
“The second he came on I was telling him good looking he was and I loved his calves and asking him how he got his hair to look like that.
“I was told if you kick him or get him really hard he gets back up and at you. Maybe that was the best way to get at Jack Grealish the other night.”
O’Donnell feels the England result has got Steve Clarke’s men back on track in their attempt to reach the knock-out stages of a major finals for the first time.
Scotland had opened the tournament with a 2-0 loss to Czech Republic, with Friday’s result in London meaning a victory over Croatia on Tuesday will likely take them through.
Motherwell full back O’Donnell said: “We went there needing to stay in the competition. We managed to.
“The performance was very good but the most important thing at this level is the result. To get the draw that gave us the opportunity to go into Tuesday to qualify was massive.
“Especially as the start was very disappointing. Look there is relief we are still in this and there is more belief. We believe we are a very good side and we have good players in the team. Hopefully it will give us even more confidence to do one over Croatia.”
O’Donnell feels the England display has given his side the perfect template for their match against 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia, who are ranked 14th in the world.
He added: “It is similar to the England game. We need to approach with caution.
“They are a side who have bags and bags of quality. They were in the final of the World Cup a couple of years ago.
“People are saying they are aging but in a couple of years’ time I hope people aren’t saying I am past it, so I am sure they are not past it either. It will be a tough game but one we go into with optimism and I am sure we will give it a good bash.”