By Will Butcher
Controversial winger Jack Grealish has revealed how he is trying to win back the hearts of Aston Villa’s fans – even if it annoys his girlfriend.
The 20-year-old has been criticised heavily for his excessive partying and lack of discipline, with pictures even showing him sprawled across the ground in a drunken state while on holiday.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Grealish has declared that his mistakes are all in the past, and he emphasised the point by revealing he has been working hard while away on holiday this summer.
“I went away to Dubai and Santorini with my girlfriend [Sasha],” Grealish told The Telegraph. “I was running on the beaches in the morning. I had a personal trainer with me.
“I was also going to the gym in the evenings at 7pm when she wanted to go out for dinner so I wasn’t too popular!”
The England Under-21 international’s renewed determination to impress the Villa faithful will come as music to fans’ ears.
Grealish was one of the Villains’ shining lights under ex-manager Tim Sherwood and they will be hoping that the youngster can recreate that form, which was conspicuous by its absence during a wretched 2015-16 campaign for player and club.
The attacking midfielder, who played for Ireland’s youth teams up until the under-21 level before switching his allegiance to England, believes he owes Villa’s fans and is focused on making it up to them.
“I feel like I’ve matured a lot and grown up since then,” he said. “It’s all about learning and I’m still only 20. You can see why the fans got frustrated and I’ve got a little bit to make up with them.”
There is now an air of optimism surrounding Villa Park, following the exit of owner Randy Lerner and the appointment of Champions League winning manager Roberto Di Matteo.
Grealish revealed how Di Matteo spoke to Villa’s number 40 when he was on holiday and explained how the Italian has already had an impact on the squad.
“This season it’s all going to be about hard work,” he said. “A few days after the new manager was appointed he rang me while I was on my holiday. For him to call me and have a positive chat gave me a really good feeling.”
In other Aston Villa news, new £12million signing Ross McCormack wants to be the key man in Villa’s new-look side.