Mark Harrison: Aston Villa’s kids should look up to Jack Grealish
Skipper Jack Grealish has been hailed as the perfect role model for Villa’s next generation of stars.
New academy boss Mark Harrison believes the 23-year-old can help inspire others aiming to follow in his footsteps from youth team to first-team.
Harrison, charged with revamping Villa’s academy after making the move across from Albion, said: “I’m fortunate to have Jack. He is the perfect role model. He’s had a fantastic journey. I’ve watched it from a bit of a distance over the years.
“I think it is great the young players can have someone to aspire to. It is not just the fact Jack is a local boy but the way he plays the game. He is such a technically wonderful player.
“That is what drives me on every day, to develop homegrown players who are Villa supporters.
“We all know the connection between fans and those players, you just can’t measure it. If we can get two or three of those around the first team that would be fantastic.”
Villa spent £127million on 12 new signings after winning promotion to the Premier League, but Harrison insists boss Dean Smith remains committed to bringing through young players
“I think myself and Dean share the same core values about trying to bring through local players,” he said.
“People outside the football world think that is what should happen but believe you me, sometimes it doesn’t happen.
“Sometimes head coaches think the academy is nothing to do with them but that is certainly not the case with Dean. I think our academy is very fortunate to have that kind of head coach.”