Jack Grealish admits he has learned a valuable lesson and is embracing his position as a role model after causing controversy by agreeing to visit a friend during lockdown in March.
Police attended the Dickens Heath area of Solihull following reports that a Range Rover had crashed into two parked cars, while pictures emerged online of the Aston Villa captain at the scene, wearing slippers and a bright blue hoodie.
Grealish would later admit he was “deeply embarrassed” by the incident, having only appealed to the public in a video on social media to stay at home during the Government-enforced lockdown a day earlier.
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And now the Villa star has further reflected on his actions and is using the incident as a turning point.
“I knew straight away that I had to come out and apologise myself, which I wanted to do; I didn’t want to hide behind a club statement,” Grealish told the Guardian.
“I am old enough now and mature enough to know that I’d done wrong.
“I know I am a footballer but I’m still human and we all make mistakes and straight away I knew I’d made a mistake. I’m also a role model as well to a lot of people out there, especially young children who might look up to me.
“So I try to act in respectable manner but since then I have tried to keep my head down, work hard and do as much charitable work as possible.”
Grealish has since donated £150,000 to Birmingham Children’s Hospital and raised a further £55,000 for the NHS in a raffle for one off his Villa shirts and accepts he will always be under greater scrutiny given his job.
He added: “That’s just the way things are in this world that we live in. Everyone knows when you do something it’s always going to be the bad stuff that gets out there.
“That’s what I have to deal with. I respect my job, absolutely love what I do, and wouldn’t change it for the world.”