By Graham Hill
JACK GREALISH has revealed the pep talk from Villa boss Dean Smith that took his game to the next level.
The Villa skipper has led his side back into the top six and Smith’s side will be aiming for a seventh straight win at Rotherham.
But he says the Villa manager has played a key role in developing his game this season – as well as making him captain.
Grealish told the club’s official TV channel: “The manager sat me down in his first or second day at the club and said he wanted me to score more goals, more assists.
“He said: ‘I want you to change your game up a little bit.’.
“My two goals this season have come from me doing that.
“Against Blues, it was unbelievable for me to score, I think everyone knows I’m a Villa fan and how much that meant to me and my family.
“But the week leading up to that game., I was so ill, I was on antibiotics.
“The night before I was in bed shivering, I didn’t think I’d be able to play.
“But that was probably the stand-out game for me.
“For me to do it every week in front of the Villa fans is something I’ve dreamt about since I was a kid.
“I want to do it for as long as possible.”
Grealish admitted he ‘loves’ it when he gets kicked by opponents.
He says he has no problems with being targeted by his markers during games.
It tends to free up players like John McGinn and shows Villa are by no means a one-man team.
he club’s official TV channel: “My first home game was when I came on against Hull City.
“And I got absolutely clattered about five times in 15 minutes!
“But that’s what I like, I love getting kicked and stuff.”
Grealish admits he had to wait before scoring a goal at Villa Park – but it was worth it.
He added: “I’ve done that now, to score in front of the Holte End is every fan’s dream.
“I’ve done that now, and I hope to do it a lot more.”