Aston Villa star Jack Grealish has said that time spent on the sidelines and bad press made him grow and mature into the highly coveted player that he is today, with the Villans captain now the subject of intense transfer speculation involving Manchester United.
The 24-year-old had always shown glimpses of his potential as a youngster, but a lack of consistency and being pictured passed out on a road in Ibiza at 19 years old did him no favours in the earlier stages of his career.
Now wearing the captain's armband for his boyhood club, playing with poise and a calmness most can only envy, Grealish has said that he wouldn't change anything as prior issues forced him to grow up and focus on what's important – his football.
“I'm a lot different,” he told Sky Sports. “Everything that's happened in my life, good or bad, football-wise has set me up to be the person I am today. I wouldn't change anything.
“Everyone knows I've had a bit of bad press when I was younger but I wouldn't change it. That's made me who I am today.
“I think I've already started a new chapter. In the past year, you have certain stuff happen and I was out injured – I got two bad injuries a couple of years ago, a kidney injury and then I did my shins.
“I was out for three to four months and when you're out everything kicks in, really. You start to think about what you really want to achieve.
“When I was young I might have been a bit immature, but now I know what I want to do in my career: play for Aston Villa, play for England and win trophies. That's the aim.”
Despite Grealish's own good form, relegation remains a real threat for Aston Villa, who sit just one point outside of the Premier League's bottom three. The attacking midfielder, however, fancies the Birmingham side's chances as he continues to impress in the English top-flight.
“We're not performing as well as we can,” he said. “We've come off the back of three defeats in the league, so I feel like we're not where we want to be at the moment. But I've always said during this season that we're confident we'll stay up. You never know what'll happen in the future.
“I've always known what I can do and how good I can be,” Grealish added. “I've never really had any doubts coming into the Premier League that I wouldn't be able to perform the way I am. I'm scoring and creating a lot and that's the main thing I need to be doing for the team.
“Long may it continue.”