Aston Villa hero Jack Grealish: Even after getting punched, this has been one of the best days of my life
Villa hero Jack Grealish summed up an extraordinary Second City derby by declaring: “Even after getting punched, this is one of the best days of my life.”
Grealish got up from a disgraceful fan attack to fire the only goal of the game as Villa won at Blues to keep their Championship play-off hopes very much alive.
The 23-year-old was knocked to the ground by a fan who raced onto the pitch in the 10th minute at St Andrew’s.
But he later had the last laugh, shooting home through a crowded penalty area as Villa extended their unbeaten league run against their city rivals to 14 games.
Grealish said: “Even with punch it has ended up being one of the best days of my life - captaining the club here at St Andrew’s, scoring the winner and jumping into the away end.
“When I was young I used to watch Gabby (Agbonlahor) do it. I’ve said to him before how I would love to do it.
“I didn’t see him (the fan) coming. I like to think I am a calm character and I tried to do my football do the talking and in the end I am sure I did because I got the goal and we are the ones leaving with three points.”
Grealish has now scored in back-to-back derbies with Blues, having also netted in Villa’s 4-2 home win last November.
“Definitely this was better,” he said. “It was unbelievable. After what happened at the start of the game. It is always better to score at their place.
“My first touch wasn’t the best so I have ended up taking another one.
“Every day you see people shoot across defenders, through legs, and I thought that is what I am going to try and do here. I couldn’t believe how slow it went. Once I saw it hit the back of the net it was celebration time.”
Victory saw Villa climb five places up to ninth at the start of a likely season-defining week.
Dean Smith’s men next go to eighth-placed Nottingham Forest on Wednesday before hosting fifth-placed Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Grealish added: “It was a massive win. We have jumped up four or five places.
“We’ve got a tough week but we’ve scored five goals in two games without conceding and we are going into these games full of confidence. If we can get two wins, or four points, we will be flying.”