A lot of people to thank but mostly my mom and dad! Been by my side throughout my life! Hard work starts now!!!! pic.twitter.com/hZSjYM1U2f— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish1) October 14, 2014
While Jack Grealish can’t hide his delight at signing a new long-term deal at Aston Villa, the talented teenager admits that he is nowhere near the finished product.
Aged 19, Grealish has been hailed as one of the building blocks of Villa’s future after making his first-team breakthrough this season, earning rave reviews from four Premier League cameos and one Capital One Cup start thus far.
However, having entered the final season of his contract, his future had been the subject of much speculation in recent weeks, with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United reported to be interested in his signature.
The Solihull-native insists that he never planned on leaving his childhood club, however, and, having put pen to paper on a fresh four-year deal, intends to do everything possible to become a claret and blue legend.
‘Sometimes people think they can take their foot off the gas when you sign a new contract but I won’t be doing that,’ he told the club’s official website.
‘The gaffer has said to me that I need to push even harder now I’ve signed my new contract, which is what I’ll be doing.
‘My dad [Kevin] has said the same, too. He’s warned me that I can’t step off it now.
‘He’s told me that I have to keep going and he motivates me.
‘I know I’ve done nothing at the moment, all I’ve done is sign a new contract.
‘I have got to keep working hard and training hard and hopefully good things will come in the future. I have to keep my feet on the ground now.’
Grealish was a season ticket holder at Villa even before joining the club at the age of six, recalling how he used to chant Juan Pablo Angel’s name from his seat in the Doug Ellis Stand and how current team-mate Gabby Agbonlahor was his idol while coming through the academy setup.
‘I’ve grown up supporting the club – in fact, I’ve had a season ticket at Villa since I was four years old and came to every game – so this is a big thing for me and my family,’ he said.
‘All of my family are Villa fans and my dad has been there from the start, all through my career he’s followed me and he hasn’t missed a Villa game this season.
‘For the manager and the club to show this faith and trust in me, I’m really appreciative and I’m determined to repay that trust.
‘I know I have to continue to kick on and push on now, I have to keep developing and progressing and I have to strive to be as good a player as I can possibly be.
‘Mentally and physically, I came on a lot last season on loan at Notts County and that experience helped me loads.
‘I look at some of the other players who have come through the Academy and who are playing week in, week out, following in the footsteps of someone like Gabby Agbonlahor. That's my motivation and I'm really determined to do everything I can to contribute to the club.’