Gabriel Agbonlahor has insisted his former Aston Villa teammate Jack Grealish has the ego to match his “amazing” talent.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley, the former Villa striker claimed the club captain and new England star was destined for greatness from a young age.
Agbonlahor recalls the first time a cocky Grealish trained with the Villa first-team squad at the age of 17 left an indelible impression on the seniors.
The 25-year-old has had plenty of ups and downs since but demonstrated his growing influence with an outstanding performance for England in their 2-0 Nations League defeat to Belgium on Sunday night.
Asked by Football Insider if he ever thought Grealish would hit such heights, Agbonlahor said:
“Yes. The first time he came and trained with us at Villa, he had the socks down, he might have been 17, 18, and we were quite old school mentality players, so when he walked past us on the training ground, I was like, ‘who this guy with the socks down’?
“You know, even the managers at that time were like, ‘who’s this coming from the youth
Such an honour to make my first competitive start for @England last night! I’ve dreamt of this moment since I was a kid and I absolutely loved every single minute of it. I felt we deserved more from the game but time to kick on and to end the international break on a high! 🦁🏴 pic.twitter.com/rNM9LAYLjs
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish) November 16, 2020
“You know, normally from the youth team, normally from the youth team you’d have your socks up, your pads on but that just sums him up as he is.
“He’s a character, he’s got the ego that goes with the way he plays, you know. To do that from the age that he came into the first team, we just knew from that age that he was gonna be a star.
“He knew how good he was from that age and the more I’ve seen him, the more training I’ve seen him in, the more in games from a young age, then I could just tell that he was going to be a great player.
“Just for me, what he’s done in the last two or three seasons, he’s just picked it up to a different notch of like learning more.
“It was similar to me and my time at Villa, like you just learn more when you’re playing in the big league, you just learn more every game and get better and better, you read how defenders play, you just get better and better.
“That’s with him, he’s started filling out more , the way he gets the ball now, he can score with both feet, he can assist and that’s what people are trying to hold against him in his early years.
“It’s like he’s an amazing player, lovely to watch but it’s about the stats – now he’s doing both, he’s showing what he can do, he’s aggressive, he can tackle, he’s a leader and he’s scoring great goals and assisting.”