By: Will Feldman
The future seems bleak for the fans of the Claret and Blue. The once proud and ‘prepared’ lion has been humbled. Mired deep in a near hopeless relegation battle there is little hope for Aston Villa to retain their spot in the premier league. The little hope that remains comes in the form of a 20-year-old winger by the name of Jack Grealish. The 20-year-old is easy to spot on the pitch, boasting a bold, unique hairstyle which reflects the confidence with which he plays the game. A homegrown talent, Grealish grew up a Villan and joined the club’s youth system at the age of 6. As a lifelong fan, Jack has gone to every home game at Villa park since the age of 4 (Whitewell, 1). Even more amazing, “Grealish is the great-great-grandson of Billy Garraty (a member of the Aston Villa side which won the 1905 FA cup)” (Ferenchick,1). At the age of 19, Grealish spurned the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City and penned a four-year contract extension with Villa (Lintott, 1). Jack, who has claim to both Irish and English nationality, was a star in the U21 international game as well, winning Ireland’s U21 player of the year in 2015 (Lintott,1). The Midlands native quickly became a fan favorite as he excelled in the youth systems and was considered one of the best youth prospects in England (Whitewell, 1). Jack Grealish proved himself a future star with a brilliant performance in the FA Cup Semi-final in 2015. As the youngest player on the pitch, Grealish was the sublime against a very strong Liverpool side as he helped Aston Villa to a 2-1 victory. Grealish completed 32 of his 33 passes in the first half, giving him the most passes on the pitch and an absurdly high completion percent. He also had the assist on the game winning goal as well as a beautiful, key pass which lead to Villa’s first goal of the night (Bate, 1). The swagger, bravado, and athleticism that Jack possess gives he the ability to be great, but his passion and love of his boyhood club is what will make him a special player. Despite his potential and passion, he hasn’t been a choir boy. Twice he has been at the center of attention for off the pitch antics. Photos of him passed out on a road in Tenerife, a holiday destination in the Canary Islands, but the young starlet under the microscope (Kent, 1). He was again criticized for going out on consecutive nights following a humiliating away loss (Kent, 1). Partying aside, Jack Grealish is the future of Aston Villa. An electrifying talent with no shortage of confidence can do wonders for a desperate side. All the Villa faithful hold their breath as they wait to see what this wunderkind can do for their beleaguered side. Can he lead a great escape from the clutches of relegation? The stage is set for Jack Grealish to take his place as a legend at Villa Park, can he seize this opportunity?
Enjoy some of his highlights here:
Bate, Adam. “Jack Grealish: Aston Villa Teenager Steals the Show in FA Cup Semi-final.” Sky Sports. N.p., 20 Apr. 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <http://www.skysports.com/football/news/12799/9813961/jack-grealish-aston-villa-teenager-steals-the-show-in-fa-cup-semi-final>.
Ferenchick, Matt. “A Story of Jack Grealish and the 1905 FA Cup Final.” 7500 To Holte. N.p., 26 May 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <http://7500toholte.sbnation.com/2015/5/26/8658657/aston-villa-fa-cup-final-jack-grealish-billy-garraty-arsenal-1905-newcastle>.
Grimse, Jack. “Transfer Talk: Exciting Young Villa Winger.” 7500 To Holte. N.p., 15 Aug. 2014. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <http://7500toholte.sbnation.com/2014/8/15/6000271/jack-grealish-exciting-young-villa-winger>.
Lintott, Robert. “Aston Villa Winger Receives Prestigious National Footballing Award.” 7500 To Holte. N.p., 23 Mar. 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <http://7500toholte.sbnation.com/2015/3/23/8275777/aston-villa-jack-grealish-ireland-u-21-player-ohttp://7500toholte.sbnation.com/2015/3/23/8275777/aston-villa-jack-grealish-ireland-u-
Lintott, Robert. “BREAKING: Grealish Spurns Chelsea and City, Re-signs with Villa.” 7500 To Holte. N.p., 14 Oct. 2014. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <http://7500toholte.sbnation.com/2014/10/14/6974487/aston-villa-jack-grealish-new-deal-contract-four-years>.
MailOnline, David Kent for. “Jack Grealish Filmed Enjoying Boozy Night out after Aston Villa’s 4-0 Defeat by Everton While Friends Appear to Inhale Hippy Crack.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 24 Nov. 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/sportsnews/article-3330610/Jack-Grealish-filmed-enjoying-boozy-night-Aston-Villa-s-4-0-defeat-Everton-friends-appear-inhale-hippy-crack.html>.
MailOnline, David Kent for. “Jack Grealish Pictured Sprawled on the Road Surrounded by Packs of Cigarettes as Aston Villa Star Holidays in Tenerife .” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 15 June 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3124002/Aston-Villa-starlet-Jack-Grealish-pictured-sprawled-road-holiday-Tenerife.html>.
Whitwell, Laurie. “Jack Grealish Signs New Four-year Contract as Aston Villa Tie down Talented Youngster.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 14 Oct. 2014. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2792666/jack-grealish-signs-new-four-year-contract-aston-villa.html>.