Manchester City winger Jack Grealish is hoping he won’t get booed by Aston Villa fans as he faces his boyhood club for the first time since his British-record £100m transfer on Wednesday night, insisting he will applaud all four stands at Villa Park come what may.
Grealish has admitted that he almost returned to Villa Park as a fan last month when the club faced West Ham, but opted against it because he was unsure of the reception he would get.
“I was so close to coming to the West Ham game, as we’d played on Saturday against [Crystal] Palace. I was invited to sit with Christian [Purslow] but I wasn’t actually sure of the reception I was going to get so I didn’t go,” the 26-year-old told the Daily Telegraph.
“Fingers crossed it will be a good one on Wednesday. I’ll clap all four sides of the ground no matter what. If I get booed it will be a bit awkward!”
Grealish still holds Villa dear and insists that will never change. “I knew some people would be unhappy when I left, and I can see why some were like that, but I gave my all for the club every single year I was there,” he explained.
“If I score, I’m not going to be celebrating. At the end of the day, I’m Jack Grealish from Solihull who loves the Villa. That will never change – I’ve had a season ticket since I was four and been a fan my whole life.”
Grealish has seen his season stall after a bright start in Manchester. He scored on his home debut for City against Norwich back in August and grabbed an assist in the following game against Arsenal. But, having been a regular starter, the player was dropped to the bench for the Manchester derby and has missed the last two games because of a knock suffered on international duty.