Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish says he regrets breaking coronavirus lockdown protocols, but also stresses that he is "still human and we all make mistakes".
Grealish hit the headlines at the end of the March after crashing his Range Rover into parked cars on the streets of Birmingham after visiting a friend's house.
Earlier in the month, the British government had outlined new rules regarding social distancing to prevent the spread of Covid-19 - advising the public to remain in their homes while closing down all non-essential shops.
Grealish apologised after knowingly flouting those measures, and has since donated £150,000 to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, but could yet face criminal charges as the West Midlands Police continues to investigate the incident.
The Villa talisman has opened up on his grave error of judgement during an interview with The Guardian, conceding he failed to live up to his duties as a role model for the next generation.
“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,” said Grealish.
“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 a respectable manner but since then I have tried to keep my head down, work hard and do as much charitable work as possible.”
Grealish was being tipped to earn a call up to the England squad before the 2019-20 campaign was called to a halt, after contributing nine goals and eight assists to Villa's cause in 31 domestic outings.
“My season has been very good, though I probably didn’t start as I wanted to," said the 24-year-old.
"I got an assist in the second game but apart from that I don’t think I got a goal or an assist for six weeks and that’s what I base my game on, what I do to help the team since then I have just thrived and enjoyed every single moment.
"Without sounding arrogant or big-headed I had no doubts I would come into this league and perform the way I have done.”
The Premier League is due to restart on June 17, with all remaining fixtures set to be played behind closed doors and some matches likely to take place at neutral venues.
Grealish says that although losing home advantage could damage Villa's chances of avoiding relegation, he is just excited to get back on the pitch after a frustrating period in quarantine.
“I would probably say it is a disadvantage, if I am honest, only because of how much we have thrived on the home games this year," Grealish added.
"We have won a lot more at home than we have away. We had six games remaining at home. We still have a game in hand and if we win the game in hand we are out of the relegation zone.
"It is not something we are going to sit back and moan about. It is still in our hands. We can’t moan about the fact we might have had the fans there.
"We will just take it as it is because we are just delighted to be getting back.”