By Matt Farr
Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish has admitted he struggled to cope with the Premier League limelight.
The 21-year-old has often grabbed the headlines for his controversial social antics, earning a poor reputation with the Villa faithful, despite his on-field displays.
The young revelation stormed into the Villa first-team under Tim Sherwood, but was part of the side that finished bottom of the Premier League last season, and was subsequently relegated to the Championship.
Grealish first made the papers in 2014 when he was spotted inhaling nitrous oxide with friends, while he was later caught clubbing after a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Everton.
However, his behaviour has greatly improved this season under new manager Steve Bruce, and Grealish insists his badboy persona is a thing of the past. He cited his inexperience as the cause of his downward spiral, and has not yet been caught up in any similar controversies this season.
He told TalkSport: “I struggled with the limelight. Some things happened in the past and I put that down to myself – I’ve been a bit young and bit inexperienced in the game.
“Obviously about a year ago I broke through at Villa and I found it difficult to deal with to be honest. I didn’t really know what it was going to be like. I thought I’d just be the same normal Jack, but it wasn’t really the case.
“Things changed and I started playing for Villa regularly, then there was the England/Ireland situation. I just struggled to deal with that.”
The highly-rated midfielder has contributed three goals and four assists to an Aston Villa side that sit 13th in the Championship after 22 games.
Villa have now lost just twice in their last 10 league games, a run of form which recognises the changes and improvement Steve Bruce has made to the club since taking over in October.
In other Aston Villa news, this young midfielder is targeting a January loan move to Scottish giants Rangers.