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Grealish's excellent form for the Premier League club last season ensured him a place in Gareth Southgate's 26-man England squad for Euro 2020.
However, the 25-year-old midfielder didn't make the starting XI for England's 1-0 win over Croatia in their opening Euro 2020 clash on Sunday.
Southgate's decision to start Raheem Sterling ahead of Grealish paid off as the Manchester City winger secured the winner for England in the second half at Wembley.
Grealish's future at Villa remains uncertain this summer amid intense transfer speculation linking him to Manchester United and City.
Speaking in his column for The Times, Rooney backed the United and City target to "light up the tournament."
The 35-year-old Derby County manager added that Grealish has a "lot to do to reach Gazza's levels," but he insisted that the Villa captain "reminds me of the legend I watched at Everton."
Rooney explained: "Jack Grealish is the closest thing I've seen to Gazza on a football pitch.
"He has a lot to do to reach Gazza's levels but his style of play, the way he takes the ball and runs with it in a way that is so awkward to play against, his sheer confidence on the field -- it all reminds me of the legend I watched at Everton, and then trained with when I joined their first-team squad.
"For England, I think Harry Kane is the most important player but Grealish is the one who is going to light up the tournament. He has to play.
"Just like Gazza, his style is suited to the international game, where moments of inspiration often make the difference.
"If you're looking for someone to open a team up with a bit of magic, then Grealish is the one who can do it for Gareth Southgate's side.
"He attracts defenders, draws fouls and wins free-kicks in dangerous areas. He creates chances and scores goals too.
"[Phil] Foden is a top player, a footballer who -- as you see at Manchester City -- will link play up, pass and move and can dribble too.
"But it's Grealish who commits defenders more, dragging them out of position, which will create space for other players."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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