There’s something about Jack! ‘New Gazza’ Grealish a Man City icon despite final-day snub
For most £100 million ($125m) players, the scrutiny at being left on the bench as your team desperately tried to clinch a Premier League title would have been unbearable.
And with Manchester City 2-0 down against his former club Aston Villa on Sunday, Jack Grealish was facing a potentially uncomfortable summer of analysis over his first year at the Etihad Stadium.
However, City’s dramatic late comeback, coupled with the roguish appeal of the British transfer record-breaking signing has somehow made him the face of City’s unforgettable final-day success.
Football remains his priority and, in the immediate aftermath of the thrilling title triumph, he was charming and thoughtful when asked about his first major medal and his debut campaign at City.
“I stepped out of my comfort zone to come here,” Grealish admitted on Sky Sports. “New changing room, new surroundings, new team-mates and everything.
“It’s been difficult, harder than I thought, but this today makes up for it. It really does.”
But from that earnest assessment onwards, he was determined to enjoy the moment, and there is no doubt that he has done just that.
Indeed, he immediately managed to coax a smile out of former Manchester United team-mate Roy Keane on the Etihad Stadium pitch by inviting him to join the post-match celebrations.
The Irishman politely declined but fellow TV pundit Micah Richards threatened to come along.
In the end, though, the latter was fast asleep while Grealish and his team-mates were partying the night away at the Ivy restaurant and the China White nightclub.
And, after a short interval, the drinks started to flow again the following day as the champions revelled with the club’s fans, which is when Grealish’s allure grew even more.
On the bus through Manchester city centre, the 26-year-old led the sing-song with supporters before emerging on to the stage to a huge cheer, wearing sunglasses and clutching a bottle of beer and a glass of spirits in the other.
When Riyad Mahrez asked fans who was the only winger to beat Kyle Walker, Grealish grabbed the microphone and interjected: “Me, when I was at Aston Villa! That’s why Pep Guardiola signed me!”
The laughing City boss enjoyed the intervention, just as he has enjoyed the England international’s character since he arrived at the club last summer.
While there is clearly more to come on the pitch, he has added a positive presence to the dressing room that has been noticed by the backroom staff and been beneficial in such a fraught end-of-season battle with Liverpool.
That charisma has been observed elsewhere too, with fashion label Gucci signing him up as their new star, with his modelling debut unveiled in The Face magazine in the same week he picked up his first medal.
Jack Grealish is having a great time 😂 pic.twitter.com/GOxdwfkwTk
— GOAL (@goal) May 23, 2022
But while there’s a hint of former England hero David Beckham about his style, it’s his cheeky persona, which is reminiscent of his predecessor Paul Gascoigne, that makes him such a popular every-man.
Rather than sulk over his non-appearance on the final day, which many a star would have done, Grealish chose to own it.
“The main person I want to thank is Bernardo Silva for coming off in the 70th minute, because he was miles off it!” he told the club’s website.
Later, he added on Bernardo’s Instagram video: “Riyad – take him off the pitch as soon as possible! He played like [Newcastle’s Miguel] Almiron.”
When the Portuguese hit back, “Keep Jack Grealish on the f*cking bench!”, th…