Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish has spoken to the BBC about taking his boyhood club back to the Premier League.
Jack Grealish is a modern Aston Villa icon. A fan, turned promising youth prospect and eventually turned captain, he represents the values of the club. As well as that, he remembers that Villa is a big team, a fact often forgotten by many.
Jack Grealish is notoriously too good for the Championship. A player of his talent could easily have come back to the Premier League by transferring to another team.
However, he says it was his dream to return Villa to English football’s top flight.
“It’s a massive season for me and I feel like now is the perfect time for me to come back into the Premier League and start playing here. Hopefully I can showcase my talent.
“Obviously I was absolutely gutted when we got relegated. I think I might have been one of the only players who is still here from when we got relegated. It was my dream to get this club back to where it belongs in the Premier League.
“You come here, you look at the training ground, you look at the ground, you look at the fanbase. I think everyone knows that Villa should be a Premier League club and thank God it is again.”
It was that dream which kept him from signing for Tottenham, one the day before the start of last season. It affected his performances for a long time.
“I was really close to going,” he said. “I thought the [season-opening] Hull City game was going to be my last.
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“I’ll be honest… after that Hull game, for about two months until Steve Bruce got sacked and Dean Smith came in, I was crap.
“I think I had about one assist until the start of November and I played most games. Then I had my time out. It gave me the chance to have some rest, which I think I needed.
“I was given the armband and scored twice against Birmingham. The second game was the perfect moment. As soon as I came back I just wanted to get promoted and luckily we did.”