Jack Grealish has apologised and said he is ‘deeply embarrassed’ after disobeying government advice during the coronavirus pandemic and ‘stupidly agreeing’ to go to a friend’s house last weekend.
West Midlands Police said they were called just before 10am on Sunday to the Dickens Heath area of Solihull to reports that a Range Rover had crashed into two parked cars in the street, causing minor damage.
The force said the driver had left his details with a member of the public before leaving on foot and would be spoken to by police in due course.
Images surfaced online on Sunday of a damaged white Range Rover, as well as a picture that appeared to show the Villa midfielder at the scene of the incident.
Less than 24 hours before the traffic accident, the 24-year-old Grealish had launched a video appeal for people to stay at home during the government-enforced lockdown.
Reports claim Grealish broke the lockdown rules to visit an apartment owned by Ross McCormack, the former Aston Villa player.
Police are not expected to bring charges against the player.
West Midlands Police announced they were investigating the incident and Grealish posted a video on Twitter on Monday evening apologising for his actions.
“I just want to do a quick video message just to say how deeply embarrassed I am by about what’s happened this weekend,” he said.
“I know it’s a tough time for everyone at the moment, being locked indoors for so long and I obviously just got a call off a friend asking to go round to his – and I stupidly agreed to do so.
“I don’t want anyone to make the same mistake that I did, so I obviously urge everyone to stay at home and follow the rules and the guidelines of what we’ve been asked to do.
“I know for a fact that I’ll be doing that in the near future now and obviously, like I said, I urge everyone to do the same.
“I hope everyone can accept my apology and we can move on from this and hopefully obviously in the near future we can all be out and enjoying ourselves again once this has all boiled over.”
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Grealish was being backed for inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s England squad before the suspension of all football due to COVID-19.
Following Grealish’s video message, Villa released a statement confirming the player would be disciplined and fined, with the proceeds going to a local charity.
The Premier League club said in a statement: “Aston Villa is deeply disappointed that one of our players ignored the Government’s guidance on staying at home during the Coronavirus crisis.
“Club captain Jack Grealish has accepted that his decision to leave his house was wrong and entirely unnecessary. It breached the government guidelines which are clear and should be adhered to by everybody.
“The player will be disciplined and fined with the proceeds donated to The University Hospitals Charity in Birmingham.”
According to The Times, Grealish will be fined £150,000, which equates to two weeks’ wages for the Villa captain.
Grealish’s behaviour has been widely criticised, and former Aston Villa forward Darren Bent opined that this latest incident will ruin any chances the midfielder had of securing a big move, with clubs such as Manchester United interested in acquiring his services.
“This could be damaging on a whole new level,” said Bent on the Sports Breakfast with Laura Woods.
“He is the Aston Villa captain, a role model, a leader. In Birmingham he is idolised.
“I thought he had turned over a completely new leaf; he was given the armband by Dean Smith and it forced him to grow up and people have been singing his praises.
“He was on the cusp of the England squad, and people have been talking about him moving to some of the highest-profile clubs in this country, but this will do no favours for him whatsoever.
“There’s been talk of an England call-up, but Gareth Southgate is going to look at that and think, ‘can I trust him?’
“I think that was a big issue before and why he wasn’t picked for the squads. Can he trust Jack Grealish? This isn’t going to help his cause one bit.
“Clubs might be put off as well. He’s got all the ability, but can you trust him? If you’re on a pre-season tour and they let the players have a bit of free time, are these issues going to keep coming up?”