By Phil Jennings
TAMMY Abraham has revealed he always wanted to stay with Villa – even when Wolves came calling in January.
And he admitted that having a word with Jack Grealish helped him make the decision.
The on-loan Chelsea striker looked like he might be leaving Villa Park when Nuno Espirito Santo tried to take him to Molineux.
But Abraham stayed with Dean Smith’s side and he now has 26 goals for the season after his penalty gave Villa a first leg lead to take to Albion on Tuesday in their Play-off semi-final.
The England Under-21 forward told reporters after the game: “I always knew this was the place I wanted to be.
“Even though we had a tough spell in the middle of the season, Jack Grealish said: ‘Just wait until I get back fit, we’ll be on the up again’.
“I believed it. We have a fantastic squad here and we just keep going.
“I’ll just try and help the team as much as I can and if we win the game I’m more than pleased.
“It’s been a fantastic season, I have to give all the credit to all the fans and everyone at Aston Villa – the players and the staff.
“Everyone has supported me and believed in me. When people believe in you it gives you that extra confidence.”
Villa have not lost with Grealish in the side since he returned from injury in March.
And Abraham says the skipper is a natural leader.
Abraham added: “For us it’s a massive bonus to have someone like Jack in the team.
“I don’t think he ever runs out of breath – he keeps going.
“He always believes and tries to encourage everyone – even until the last minute. It’s always nice to have that behind you.
“I always think to myself does he ever get tired? Someone like him gets the ball and he keeps going and keeps going.
“He’s a fantastic player and you don’t question why he is a leader. His ability says it all. He’s such a good leader as well.”
Abraham admitted it might have looked like a nervy moment when he had to convert his penalty – but he said he stayed calm.
He added: “To be honest, the boys were asking me if I was scared. But I wasn’t.
“I just focused on the keeper thinking ‘It’s me and you here’. I’ve been taking a few penalties in training and practising my technique. There’s no better place to try it than here.
“We have positives moving into the next game but the job isn’t done yet, we’re only halfway there.
“We just have to stay focused, patient and go into the next game as though it’s 0-0. We want to attack the game like we want to go for the win again.”