Jack Grealish is a figure who is never far from the headlines.
Back in March, the Villa skipper was punched by a Birmingham fan who ran on the pitch. His response wasn’t to lash back and throw expletives. Instead, he got up and carried on as though nothing had happened.
It was a testament to the maturing figure he’s become under Dean Smith this term.
Grealish’s influence over this Aston Villa side has been significant and as they sit on the verge of potentially achieving promotion back to the Premier League, he’s never been needed more by his club.
If the Villans were to lose him this summer it would be an almighty blow, even if they do have Conor Hourihane and John McGinn. After all, this has arguably been the 23-year-old’s best season to date.
He’s been named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year and also netted more goals, six, than he’s scored in an entire campaign before.
But it’s not his ability to find the net in fantastic fashion, as he has done this term, or dribble past several players that stands out most, it’s his remarkable consistency in terms of chance creation and key passes.
In the Championship, there have been only two games where he’s failed to pick out a single key pass, one of which came the match before Steve Bruce was sacked. The only other exception was in a 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest in March.
However, that isn’t a number to be ashamed of. Like his goals tally, it’s his best return in a single season and he’s only going to go from strength to strength.
As Villa gear up for the play-offs, not only is the club’s future on the line but so is Grealish’s.
He’ll be the key to unlocking defences but should his side fail to make it back to the top-flight, he may well find himself packing his bags.