There is an old saying in football… time is a great healer when you are in a pandemic.
Well, at least there should be.
As no fewer than five coronavirus rule-breakers were somewhere on a very wide naughty step, Jack Grealish was swaggering around Wembley on his first England start.
Along with Kyle Walker, Grealish was an original Covidiot, a Premier League trailblazer.
Pictured with slipper on one foot, slider on the other, he had returned, in mysterious circumstances, from a soiree that broke the lockdown rules back in March.
“This role model acts with impunity and recklessness,” trumpeted Piers Morgan in his breakfast television show. “Shame on you Jack Grealish.”
The same sort of shame, presumably, heaped on Mason Greenwood, Phil Foden, Tammy Abraham, Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho.
The format for those five followed a familiar pattern. A fairly prompt hands-up, social media-friendly apology, take the rap on the knuckles, move on.
After all, there will be another sinner along very, very soon.
But it was not quite so simple for Grealish. He has history, don’t forget.
The nitrous oxide was no laughing matter, nor was the photograph of him prostrate on a Tenerife street.
Gareth Southgate says he does not expect his players to be monastic but as he continued to ignore Grealish’s claims, there was a feeling the England manager just did not fancy him as a character.
Remember, Grealish declared for England in 2015. And after his lockdown larks, it seemed Grealish was back to square one.
Yet Grealish knuckled down in Project Restart and showed maturity and discipline in Aston Villa’s rearguard action.
Still, the call did not come.
But when withdrawals came for last month’s games, Southgate was almost left with no choice.
Considering his stellar club form – his display against Liverpool last weekend was, arguably, THE individual performance of the season so far – and this accomplished full debut, Southgate is again left with no choice.
Grealish is now on the firm.
For starters, imagine how many free-kicks Grealish would win at a major tournament where officials like to get busy.
It seemed Ethan Ampadu was addicted to kicking the Villa man but it was simply that Grealish is peerlessly skilled at getting himself between man and ball.
To adapt an old line, he could draw a foul in a phone box. No wonder he had a swirl of strapping around his leg in the early proceedings.
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It is a valuable knack, although not as valuable as the knack of providing goals for team-mates.
He had three assists in the shellacking of the champions on Sunday and one that got away, Ross Barkley wasting Grealish’s nutmeg of Virgil van Dijk.
That nutmeg summed up Grealish. Vision, impudence, execution.
There might have been little cheeky about the superb cross for Dominic Cavert-Lewin’s opener but it was sharply thought out and quite wonderfully executed.
It was the moment of class that prompted England’s night to go from turgid to faintly terrific.
His self-belief spread and, suddenly, centre-halves were half-volleying goals, strikers were casually tucking away bicycle-kicks and Grealish was roaming with intent like only he can.
It might not have been his finest stuff but, even in this low-key affair, It was a performance that should cement his status as an England player.
Let’s just hope he did not go out to party after the game.