Lionel Messi and Gabriel Agbonlahor being mentioned in the same sentence? There’s a first time for everything [sorry, Gabby].
That is exactly what happened, though, when Jack Grealish was asked to name his favorite players ever – with his answer leaving one of his Man City teammates very confused.
Regular talkSPORT listeners will know all about the Grealish / Agbonlahor love-in, with the Aston Villa legend regularly hailing the England midfielder.
His praise of the £ 100million man has edged on extreme at times, although Gabby has stood by his comparisons to a ‘prime Andres Iniesta’ and his belief that Grealish was ‘worth £ 120m’ when City signed him last summer.
Extreme, yes, but it appears the feeling is mutual, with Grealish mentioning Agbonlahor’s name in the same breath as Argentine maestro Messi when asked who he looked up to most when he was a young lad.
There was just one issue, though – young Man City teammate Romeo Lavia had no idea who he was talking about.
Speaking at the launch of Sure’s new 72 Hour Nonstop Protection Antiperspirant, Grealish said: “My favorite player growing up? Gabby Agbonlahor and Lionel Messi.
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John Stones: “Big Gabby, eh?”
Grealish: “Big Gabby? Why are you saying he’s big? ”
Lavia: “Who was the first one?”
Grealish: “Agbonlahor. Remember him on FIFA? Rapid. ”
Lavia: * Shakes his head *
Grealish: “No? OK… ”
Well, this is awkward.
Don’t take it personally, Gabby – he was 15 when you retired! You can see how he reacted in the video, above.
Fortunately, Gabby is a good sport and took it on the chin… well, sort of. He still can not believe Lavia does not know who he is.
“The young lad is 18, so when I was last playing in the Premier League he would have been ten or 11 years old, so I suppose it’s understandable he does not know who I am,” he told talkSPORT Edge as he reacted to the Grealish video.
“Jack is nine years younger than me, so saying he looked up to me, I was one of the main players at Villa when he was in the academy, and he was a Villa fan, so that makes sense!
“And to be next to Lionel Messi, I’ll take that!
“It’s obviously nice to hear, but I’m not sure about the young lad not knowing who I was. Even from FIFA? Surely he was playing FIFA in 2011 or 2012! I’ve got an icon card! ”
And on John Stones calling him ‘Big Gabby’, it turns out the man himself is not surprised about that one.
He laughed: “Maybe I bullied him a few times when I played him!”
Given Grealish’s admiration of the former forward, it would have been a dream come true when he broke into the Aston Villa first-team to play alongside his boyhood idol.
The master and apprentice actually played 35 times together in the Villa senior team, and twice in Under-21s matches.
It’s clear Agbonlahor’s praise of the midfielder has been influenced by not only watching him closely in their years together at Villa Park, but by watching him grow into the most expensive British footballer in history in the years since his retirement.
They still have a close relationship, and it’s clear how highly Gabby rates Grealish from the way he talks about him on air – even if it gets him pelters from talkSPORT listeners.
That’s exactly what happened when he compared the City ace to Barcelona and Spain great Iniesta – but it’s a claim he stands by.
In fact, the former Villa star demanded an apology from everybody who laughed at his claim, after Jose Mourinho compared Grealish to Ballon d’Or winner Luis Figo, and nobody batted an eyelid!
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