How Jack Grealish became a main man for Man City

He’s changed his game, made more use of those bulging calves and he STILL loves a night out: How Jack Grealish became a main man for Man City after his initial struggles with £100m move

  • Jack Grealish has been a major part of Manchester City’s title win this season 
  • It is a big turnaround for the former Aston Villa star after his initial struggles 
  • Grealish revels in silencing Real Madrid legend Guti dredging up past comments 

A year ago, Jack Grealish was deemed a £100million flop. Now, he is a key part of an English core that is driving Manchester City towards a historic Treble – a feat only achieved once before by their great rivals Manchester United.

It has been some turnaround for the Aston Villa academy product who – while he picked up a Premier League title in his debut season at the Etihad – admitted several tough lessons were learned.

Grealish scored just three league goals, a tally he has comfortably surpassed this campaign with five goals and seven assists in just 28 games as City romped home to their fifth title in six years.

The winger has been flying over recent months, starting 15 league games in a row before their 2-1 win over Leeds this month when Pep Guardiola rested key men for their Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid.

Across those two legs, Grealish’s improvements were shown again in full force as he caused Carlo Ancelotti’s side a whole host of problems at times. 

Jack Grealish has been inspired form this season as he helped Man City win yet another title

Grealish overcame his initial struggles upon joining City from Aston Villa for £100m last season to earn the trust of Pep Guardiola

He remains a charismatic and entertaining personality off the pitch and away from football

But what’s changed for the Birmingham-born star who has been compared to another English favourite of the past, Paul Gascoigne?

‘I was a bit in awe of being here, a bit shy,’ Grealish told Mail Sport’s Ian Ladyman earlier this month.

‘Not, like, in my personality but on the pitch. People would shout, “Jack, pass!” and I would be, “F***ing hell it’s (Kevin) De Bruyne, I had better pass it to him”. You know what I mean? He had been my idol.’ 

‘The main thing now is I feel loved,’ he added. ‘I feel the manager really trusts me. At Fulham (earlier this month) I didn’t have my best game. But Pep kept me on, trusting me. He was telling me, “Jack, get hold of the ball, keep it, win fouls”. So you go home and feel happy.

‘This is what I dreamed of. To play in every game for such an important team at such an important time.’

His stellar attacking contributions have been accompanied by a relentless work ethic out of possession that has endeared himself to City fans, along with his effervescent personality. 

The 27-year-old is producing weekly now, creating more chances than any Englishman ever has in a Champions League season. He is more demanding of his teammates, a bit more selfish, but with a smart presence of mind to react to situations. 

When City led by two against Real on Wednesday, and the Spanish side had a couple of threatening forays, the ball broke near halfway and many others would have tried to set away the only man ahead, Erling Haaland. Grealish saw they were majorly outnumbered, checked inside, slowed the game down. 

Grealish won the Premier League title during his debut season at Manchester City but admitted he also learnt some hard lessons playing under Guardiola 

Grealish with Elton John when he was invited into his dressing room after a concert recently

City wasted a few seconds, regained their shape to protect a transition. Guardiola adored it, blowing air kisses in Grealish’s direction from his technical area. A touch theatrical perhaps but this was a show worthy of a bit of that and demonstrates just how much his stature has risen in the eyes of the City coach.

Off the pitch, Grealish has always been popular, thrown into the spotlight as the nation’s sweetheart in recent major tournaments for England.

Grealish’s bulging calves have been synonymous with a direct style style of play along with low cut socks and tiny shin pads that give them even more definition.

He is also a Gucci ambassador and recently signed a record-breaking boot deal with Puma.

The Englishman has been written about in Vogue, Tatler and GQ. When he was featured on the front cover of FACE magazine, the accompanying write-up suggested that ‘not since David Beckham has a footballer fascinated the nation so much’. 

To maybe prove the point, it featured some arty, black-and-white close-up photographs of the aforementioned calves.

Grealish is classically modest when reflecting on this and it is the way he speaks that makes him so popular.

In a world where Premier League footballers feel about as detached as they ever have from the public, Grealish couldn’t be more different.

Grealish’s bulging calves and low-cut socks have become synonymous with him on the pitch

Grealish is also a ambassador for fashion brand Gucci (right) and recently signed a record-breaking boot deal with Puma (left) 

He has earned comparisons to David Beckham (left) in the way he has captured the nation’s imagination

He explained: ‘I just want to be my normal self. If you ask anyone who knows me, I am still just Jack if you know what I mean?

‘I would like to do everything I used to do when I was younger and it is annoying sometimes because I can’t.

‘But I don’t do any of that (modelling etc.) for money and you really have to believe when I say the main stuff for me is the football. It’s about concentrating on the pitch. Yeah?’

On this note, it is perhaps his love for a night out – despite competing at the top of world football – that endears him the most.

In the midst of City’s title celebrations at the end of last year, he did land himself in trouble when insulting Newcastle forward Miguel Almiron on camera while clearly intoxicated.

There have been several other examples of him out partying, such as the time last February when he was turned away from a night club for being too drunk. 

He showed his human side again on Wednesday when he accidently dropped the f-bomb while pitchside for CBS Sports’ Champions League coverage when he explained how he was ‘f***ing buzzing’, before quickly apologising for his misdemeanour.

Grealish’s happy-go-lucky personality is perhaps best explained by himself when he talks about his habits.

‘Everyone is different, aren’t they?’ he says. ‘Look at Erling (Haaland). He is the best professional I have ever seen. His mindset is something you won’t see again. He does everything. Recovers. In the gym. Ten hours of treatment a day. Ice baths. Diet. That’s why he is what he is. But I swear I couldn’t be like that.

Grealish’s (right) love for a night out is one of many things that endears him to the public

Grealish (pictured with Ben Chilwell in 2021) revealed it gives him a release outside of football

‘We have a great friendship but he will point at me after a game and say, “Hey, don’t you go out tonight partying”. I just tell him to shut up and go and sit in his ice bath. But that’s us. Two different people doing well in our own way.

‘I have a release that’s different to his. He is going home and sitting with his family and having a takeaway. Sometimes that’s my choice, too. I love doing that. But sometimes I like to go out and let my hair down.

‘The reason I am playing well is because I feel fit, confident, good in myself and like I am at home here. But I still love an occasional drink and going out with my friends. That’s just normal.’

And you can hardly criticise Grealish when he has just become a Premier League champion for a second time, while he is also on the verge of joining a select group of English stars to win a Treble – all the while bringing such a positive attitude to everything.

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