Villa twitter can be a chaotic place at the best of times, veering from fury to euphoria in the blink of an eye. The transfer window always sees the strength of social media ratcheted up a few notches. Take for instance the activity surrounding the signing of Ollie Watkins, an event covered brilliantly by UTV Podcast and Kristopher Woodward here. So, you can imagine the pandemonium that greeted the news that our captain and talisman Jack Grealish had quashed the transfer rumours by signing a new 5-year contract!
Grealish truly announced himself as a genuine top-level performer aged just 19, when he produced a breath-taking man of the match Wembley display to send Villa to the 2015 FA Cup final. He has produced numerous jaw-dropping moments since. There’s a Portuguese phrase, ‘o jogo bonito’, the beautiful game, and football at its best is indeed stunning. Football can be a vibrant, pulsing, fluid piece of art, played out in real-time with the pitch as the stage and Grealish the protagonist. To watch Grealish is to understand the idea of football as fine art, he plays with a swagger, finesse and class that most players can only dream of.
His career has courted controversy, as virtuosos often do. Even as recently as this year, there was the breaking of lockdown restrictions and charges for driving offences, coming only a day after a video he issued, urging the public to stay home. As with the likes of Gazza or Paul Merson, players of his ilk often have a rogue element, a thin line they tread, which when crossed, can see them get themselves into all sorts of strife. However, if you speak to teammates past and present, they will endorse not only the extraordinary natural talent but, also the professionalism and work ethic which has brought Jack to this point. Jack Grealish has overcome the misdemeanours to become a leader and role model.
In light of his contract extension, I wanted to pay tribute to a Birmingham boy who lights up Villa Park like very few others can. With 5 more years to look forward to, Jack Grealish has the chance to truly establish himself as a legend in claret and blue.
Up the Villa!