‘Sid’ Cowans on Grealish & Smith

EXCLUSIVE: Villa European Cup winner Sid explains why his team are not ‘boring’ any more – and how their influential skipper would have been ‘punched’ by his own team mates in the 1980s

By Graham Hill

VILLA legend Gordon Cowans believes Jack Grealish may have to stop going down so easily in the Premier League next season.

And he says the Villa captain would not have got away with it in the 1980s – as his own team-mates would have told him to cut it out.

European Cup winner ‘Sid’ Cowans coached a young Grealish when he was part of the Villa staff – and says he is a hugely talented player.

Cowans was hailed as one of the club’s best ever players and, speaking to promote the book Ticket to the Moon by Richard Sydenham, said: “I coached Grealish, he came through from the age of 11 and I was working with him from age 15.

“He was obviously very talented.

“But what he does do is roll around on the floor, if he’d done that in our day then someone like Ken McNaught would’ve punched his lights out!

“Even though he was on the same team.

“But Jack’s done very well and the performances he put in over the last few months of the season were brilliant.

“You could always see, with the ability that he had, that he was always going to make it to the first team.

“He was helped and pushed by Kevin MacDonald and Tony McAndrew. I was sent by the club to go and watch him when he was playing on loan at Notts County six years ago, he did very well there – he got a lot of experience over there.”

Cowans, whose playing career at Villa spanned 18 years in three separate spells, left the club in 2016 when the rot had set in and relegation loomed.

But now he says the revival under manager Dean Smith and owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris signals a bright future for Villa.

Cowans added: ‘This is the best thing that could’ve happened. We’ve got a manager who cares about the club and is a massive Villa fan and a good bloke.

“I remember Brentford coming to Villa and the football they were playing was brilliant.

“Dean’s now getting this into the lads he’s got here, there’s a way he wants them to play.

“And it’s a great way of playing, very positive and attack-minded.

“Steve Bruce was a good manager, but it was so defensive, everybody was behind the ball. And it was boring.

“Dean used to play with us in the All-Star games every Sunday, he was that Villa mad he wanted to join in with us!

“But he was a good player as well. It translates to the fans. He’s got to do it in the Premier League and I think he will do it.

“He’s got some good players and he’ll get good ones in. Plus he’s got Richard O’Kelly in there with him and he’s another great bloke. With John Terry as well I don’t think you can ask for any more.

“But on the playing side he’s got Tyrone Mings who was a different league last season, fantastic, and look at John McGinn too, what he’s brought to the team is work rate and that sets the standard for everyone else.”

*Ticket to the Moon, by Richard Sydenham is re-released in paperback by deCoubertin Books and is priced at £12.99

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