Sunday 15th May 2016 marks a rather forgettable date for Aston Villa fans. It was the last time they played Premier League football. On that day, a certain Jack Grealish was a second-half substitute in a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Arsenal.
He and the rest of the team were resigned to Championship football but three years on, the club are on the verge of entering the top-flight again.
And with it, Grealish is ready to show what the Premier League has been missing.
His development has been fascinating to watch and should Villa get promoted, then his career will have come full circle already.
His game now is in a completely different place to where it was three years ago. He’s discovered end product, become more mature and he’s now even got the captain’s armband.
He’s gone from a scruffy teenager to a young man capable of bearing the responsibility of an entire club and he’s done it to some effect.
The last time Villa were in the Premier League, Grealish only started nine times in the league and made seven substitute appearances. Therefore, it’s clear to see the stunning transformation from the player he was then.
Grealish has always had a canny nature about him but he’s now become far more careful on the ball and his composure is one of the best in the Championship.
He only contributed to one goal in the entirety of the 2015/16 season, but you can bet on that number to improve when he gets his chance in the top division again.
This season he’s scored and assisted his teammates six times in both categories. His pass percentage has increased, whilst the number of key passes he now makes is 1.1 times more per game than it was when he last played in the Premier League.
This may be the Championship we’re talking about, but it’s evidence of a player who now has what it takes to play at the highest level.
Gareth Southgate said in March that Grealish would have to play in the Premier League to get an England call-up. That could soon become a reality.