Grealish: I was really close to exit

By Phil Jennings

JACK GREALISH has revealed how close he came to becoming a Tottenham player last season – and how the cancelled move affected his Villa form.

The Villa skipper led his side to promotion in May when they beat Derby County in the Championship play-off Final at Wembley.

But it was a different story 12 months ago when Villa – suffering a cash crisis under former chairman Tony Xia – were set to sell Grealish to Spurs.

Grealish expected to be leaving – but new owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris blocked the deal.

And Grealish admitted his season was turned around with some below-par displays following.

Now Grealish will face Spurs on the opening day of the Premier League season – with Villa.

Grealish told BBC Sport: “I was really close to going. I thought the Hull City game at the start of the season was going to be my last.

“I’ll be honest… after that Hull game, for about two months until Steve Bruce got sacked and Dean Smith came in, I was crap.

“I think I had about one assist until the start of November and I played most games. Then I had my time out. It gave me the chance to have some rest, which I think I needed.

“I was given the armband and scored against Birmingham. The second game was the perfect moment. As soon as I came back I just wanted to get promoted and luckily we did.”

The flashpoint of Grealish’s season came in the victory at St Andrew’s where he scored the only goal of the game after being attacked by a pitch invading Blues fan.

Grealish added: ”I honestly could not care less that he did it, That’s from my heart. As soon as he did it I was lying on the floor and there was a bit of a fight going on. I was thinking ‘I’ve got to score the winner now’.

“It was just meant to be. After the game I was so happy. My mum was a bit upset thinking he could have been carrying anything. There was only one thing in my mind and that was to score the winner.”

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