Ever since he burst on the scene in the 2014/15 season, Jack Grealish has not ever been out of the public eye for long and has experienced his fair share of bad press. He has been photographed passed out after drinking too much on holiday, appeared on the back page inhaling nitrous oxide and, more recently, has been caught breaking lockdown rules and crashing his car. If you only see these kinds of stories, it would be easy to reduce Grealish down to a typical footballer who cares more about partying than making a positive impact. However, when one looks below the surface, it quickly becomes evident that this is not the case.
One of the first things you will find out if you do any sort of research about Jack Grealish is the impressive amount of charity work he does. As club captain, he has taken his ambassadorial role very seriously and is a huge influence on the club’s charity endeavours. Separate from this, he independently does a huge amount for charity that can easily go below the radar. He has been doing this long before he was the premier league superstar he is today- earning the title of Aston Villa community champion in Villa’s first season in the championship. He regularly auctions shirts for valiant causes such as mental health, children in need, and the NHS and also helped to raise £20,000 to help die-hard Villa fan Moin Younis (with whom he appears to have a strong connection)
Many people will have seen the generous donation Jack Grealish made to pay for Villa superfan Mia Craen’s funeral after she was tragically killed in a car accident. Especially at a time like this, this generosity is the type of thing the country needs, and he did this without making a fuss or announcing it on Twitter- demonstrating that his altruism is not motivated by a vain desire for praise or approval. Another demonstration of Jack’s character is his constant acts of kindness to fans such as Harrison Price, who was diagnosed with the rare Philadelphia Plus strain of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This has included allowing him to watch matches from his press box and inviting him to play a game of FIFA. We may never know how many similar actions Jack has done, but these seemingly small actions have a huge impact on those impacted.
On top of this, his general rapport with the fans is phenomenal. He has been known to give team talks to youth football teams, he never shies away from meeting fans (as can be seen with the Aston Villa Bingo that circulated on the club’s social media) and, anecdotally, he is nothing short of a gentleman whenever he meets any of these fans. On a personal note, Jack signed a portrait I drew of him which would have only taken a second of his time and meant a great deal to me.
Overall, it is clear that you shouldn’t believe the narrative the media has tried to build around Jack Grealish. Behind the scenes, this portrayal couldn’t be further from the truth.