Jack Grealish reveals how injury helped him come of age at Aston Villa
Jack Grealish has revealed how suffering serious injury helped him finally come of age at Villa.
The 22-year-old has been in excellent form since returning to the team, having missed the opening months of the season with kidney damage.
Grealish sustained two cuts to his kidney after colliding with Watford’s Tom Cleverley in Villa’s final pre-season friendly.
And he has revealed how the injury, coupled with both a poor 2016-17 campaign and not playing a minute while away with England during the European under-21 Championships, forced him to take a step back and reassess his career.
“Sometimes you need those moments of clarity to be able to reflect,” said Grealish. “You need to look at things and go ‘I’m better than this and I need to improve fast’.
“Another moment was going away in the summer with England to the European Championships – and not playing a game.
“I remember in the second half of last season, the manager seemed to only be playing me in home games and I kept thinking ‘why Jack, why?’. It was a great way for me to think. It made me look at myself as a footballer.
“You can look at it and say ‘I should be playing.’ But instead I thought ‘why am I not playing, what’s the reason, what do I need to do?’ I had those moments - and obviously the serious injury in pre-season.
“Since then my mindset has been ‘football is my life, I want to be playing every game, I want to be the very best I can be’.”
Speaking for the first time about his kidney injury, Grealish revealed how he initially feared being out for a much longer period.
“First of all, they said it would be five months but, thankfully, after a scan in September I was back running the following month and training in November," he said.
“When it first happened, I didn’t think about the pain at all, I just thought ‘the ball has gone, I’m going to be in trouble here’.
“Then it sunk in. I felt I had been winded but 10 times worse. When I got up, I couldn’t think about jogging…let alone running!
“I came to the side of the pitch and just said ‘I can’t carry on here, there’s something wrong’.
“I remember sitting down in the dressing room and we were 80 minutes in and I had the sharpest pain I’ve ever had in my life, I felt like I had been shot.
“I started shouting and then obviously we realised I needed to go straight to hospital. In spite of all that – and I laugh about it now – I was saying to the doctor on the way to hospital ‘I will be fine for next week, though, right?’
“It was the start of the season and I was desperate to play and impress. He still jokes about it with me now.
“When they told me I had been cut in two places in my kidney, my first thought was for my health.
“Now it’s great to be back doing what I love – and I intend on making up for lost time.”
Villa’s trip to Sheffield United has been moved to Tuesday, January 30, after the Blades progressed in the FA Cup.