Villa star Grealish admits he “struggled with the limelight”

Date published: Wednesday 21st December 2016 3:20

Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish admits he has found life tough in the spotlight since breaking into the team.

The 21-year-old has made as many headlines off the pitch as he has on it since making his senior debut at the end of the 2013-14 season.

The following campaign he made 23 appearances as Villa reached the FA Cup final and his performances led to focus on his international future with England and Republic of Ireland both keen to get him to commit to them.

After picking England, he was then involved in a series of off-field controversies. The Villa academy product was pictured lying on the floor on holiday in Tenerife in June 2015 before a film emerged of him on a boozy night out in Manchester just hours after Villa were thrashed 4-0 by Everton last November.

At the beginning of this season, Grealish was hauled in front of then-manager Roberto Di Matteo after he was involved in an all-night party at a Birmingham hotel.

Grealish has stayed out of trouble since and in an attempt to explain his behaviour told talkSPORT: “I struggled with the limelight. Things changed and I started playing for Villa regularly, then there was the England/Ireland situation. I just struggled to deal with that.

“Some things happened in the past and I put it down to myself – I’ve been a bit young and a bit inexperienced in the game.

“I didn’t really know what it was going to be like. Obviously about a year ago I broke through at Villa and I found it difficult to deal with to be honest. I thought I’d just be the same normal Jack, but it wasn’t really the case.

“But I’ve had some good advice from people, I’ve grown up a lot and now I just really want to concentrate on my football. I’ve got the perfect manager for me here at the club at the moment, I’ve got the right people around me now, so hopefully I can carry on and do that and just let the football do the talking from now on.

“[Seeing myself in the papers] wasn’t the best for me or my family but it happens, I was young, I’ve just got to learn from it and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

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