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In the last outing of his season-long loan spell at the club, Jack Grealish played a major part in Notts County securing a point away at Oldham and avoiding relegation from League One.
The now Aston Villa and England ace helped Shaun Derry’s men come from behind to earn a 1-1 draw at Boundary Park, which sparked chaos on the final day of the 2013/14 campaign when 3,000 travelling supporters stormed the pitch at the final whistle.
Grealish was lifted onto their shoulders and championed as a Notts hero, but little did they know he was on the verge of letting the occasion get to him before assistant boss Greg Abbott pulled him for a pivotal chat at the half-time break.
“During the first half, Jack was told in no uncertain terms that he needed to do this, needed to do that, he needed to track back and make tackles,” Abbott told Birmingham Live.
“It really upset him so in that 15-minute break at half-time, I had to do a real man-management job on him.
“I had to get him to come round, make him realise just how big of a player he was for us and make him understand just how big of a day it was for the club.
“Up until that point, he just wasn’t getting it. He just wanted to get the ball and play. That’s how much out of his depth he was in terms of his age and experience.
“I guess Jack would say he probably learned a lot from it but I will tell you, it was one of the longest 15 minutes I’ve ever had during my career.
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“The simple fact is that without Jack, we lose the game, no question about it.
“We needed everybody at their best. But he came out for the second half and played a major part in getting that result.
“But I’ve got to be honest, at one point, I thought the importance of the day, what was riding on it, was just going to be too much for him.”
Grealish has since gone on to become one of the most talented players in the Premier League, while also emerging as a frontrunner to earn a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for Euro 2020 this summer.
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- Aston Villa FC
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