Creative Soccer Culture

Jack Grealish On Joining PUMA, Life Experiences, & Achieving Dreams

After several weeks of speculation, it’s now official – Jack Grealish is a PUMA player, joining the German brand’s roster to line up alongside stars such as Neymar, Memphis and Antoinne Griezmann.

Jack Grealish is one of the biggest names in the game right now. As well as his performances on the pitch for Manchester City and England, he’s also made headlines by becoming a brand ambassador for Gucci – an unprecedented move for a sportsperson. Now, after weeks of speculation, he’s traded in his Swoosh for the Big Cat, and signed for PUMA. It’s a huge scoop for the brand, and a big move for Grealish, coming at a time where his star continues to rise.


Having been playing in the PUMA Future Ultimate over the last couple of weeks, it was a a fairly safe assumption that Grealish’s time with Nike was at an end, and that he was likely to join PUMA. Ahead of the official announcement today, we sat down with the England man to find out more about why he decided to make the switch, and what it was about PUMA that tempted him in, as well as talking with him more generally about his dreams and aspirations, where his journey has taken him so far, and what his ultimate goal in life is.

Took a lot to leave a city and club you loved at Villa. How’s it been making Manchester your home?

It’s been good. Obviously difficult as you can imagine, me being at Villa my whole life and not really walking into any new changing rooms, not seeing different coaching staff and just trying to get used to everything. I always thought it was just football and it would be the exact same, but obviously you can imagine it’s completely different; completely different environment, different teammates, different coaching staff, manager, city. I know it’s only two hours down the road but I’m still away from my family, and it was much more difficult than I imagined, but something I’m getting used to and something I’m really enjoying now.

It’s propelled you to silverware. Where’s that medal now?

The medal is actually in a frame. When you win the league, they give you a City top with champions on the back, so I’ve got that framed with the medal in there. That will be going up in my house and something I’ll be very proud of every time I see it.

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That medal and what it must mean to you and your family…so much graft gone into getting that…the relationship with your dad is a close one isn’t it? What’s your success done for your family?

Of course, family are everything to me. They’ve always been there whether it be my brothers, sisters, mum, my dad, anyone that knows me knows how close I am with my family, they’ve always supported me since I started kicking a ball at four or five years old.

My dad’s travelled everywhere with me. When I was at Villa he would come to every single away game when I was a kid, whether it would be Cardiff away, he’d always come and watch. It’s something to this day I’m so grateful for. I was lucky that my dad was so supportive of me.

Nowadays, you can get a few parents that might be a bit on top of their children and you know might be a bit harsh when they’re playing bad or don’t have a good day training, by my dad was never like that, he always put an arm around me and made me feel loved, and I have the utmost respect for that and I think that’s how managers can get the best out of me.

My success has done a lot for us. It’s been difficult at times, it’s not all happy faces. Sometimes it’s a lot of stress and a lot of difficulties but something I wouldn’t change, with the ups you get downs as well. Obviously, I love what I do, I love my family and I’m so grateful for everything they’ve done to help me.

What about the clubs you started your career with? Highgate United. They must look at you as an inspiration for all the kids coming through now…

I started at Highgate! I went back there not long ago, and I really enjoyed going back, it brought back a lot of memories going to the little club house where you’d sit after games with your family. But I loved it there. I’m so grateful for that club, it’s made me the player and person I am today. It’s always nice to go back there and relive some good memories.

Going back to City…Everything that came with winning that title… The journey of that season through to the celebrations – how did it compare to the dreams you’d have as a kid of winning the league?

It’s a weird one because I’ve always said growing up, I didn’t have a dream of winning the Premier League or a World Cup, it was always just playing for Aston Villa as a kid. Then I’d have another dream to become a regular in the first team, then another dream to play for England, then the Euros, then the World Cup. Once you can see it, and you can achieve it, that’s when I start to dream.

Everyone is different, some children their first dream is to win the Premier League. Everyone is different, I just had one dream to play for Aston Villa. The journey from the whole season through to the celebrations was just how you’d expect really, especially on the last day, being so tense! I thought it was the perfect way to win the league, it was a dream day for myself even though I didn’t play the game, it was what I came to the club for. 

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World Cup’s and generally a lot of love for you from the country as a whole – does it feel like your world has changed in the last couple of years? Now kids across the country want to wear an Alice band because you, as well as play for the country – is it surreal to have that effect on people?

It’s nice to have that effect. I was like that as a child, I used to have a chewing gum because Benito Carbone and Juan Pablo Ángel used to have a chewing gum, so I thought it was cool to play with a chewing gum in. But yeah, I got so much love from the country and the fans at the Euros and the World Cup, it’s so nice when the country comes together.

But yeah, even when you drive to the ground nowadays and you see children with your name on the back of their shirt, it’s something you never get bored of and never take for granted because that was me one day when I was walking to Villa Park and I’d always have a name on the back of my shirt. When you see kids having that now and having the hairband, it’s something that makes me proud.

Is it weird seeing people’s body language when you walk into a room?

Not really, I just see myself as a normal lad. Anyone that knows me or is close to me would say the exact same. You obviously understand people get a bit shy – I was like that when I was a kid when I met my heroes, I used to wait outside the gate at the training ground and wait for them to come in and get signatures. I’d be sitting there not saying a word! If I saw one of the Villa players in the city centre at Touchwood in Solihull, I’d be so nervous to go over and ask for a photo or speak with them. Obviously, growing up, being on the other side you see where it comes from. But listen, I’m so approachable, I’d speak to anyone, it’s not really weird I wouldn't say.

That effect…it’s meant that brands like Gucci come calling. PUMA fight for your contract. Proper movie levels – how selective are you about brands you link up with?

You’ve got to be selective, you can’t say yes to everything. PUMA is a massive brand, a brand I’ve always liked. Over the last couple of years, I feel like it’s only getting bigger. With the players they have nowadays, Neymar and people like this and so much other stuff they’re involved in, I feel like it’s getting bigger and bigger and something I really wanted to be a part of. I love Gucci, I’ve always loved it. I’ve worn it since I started getting paid at Aston Villa as a scholar. That’s probably one thing that feels a bit surreal at the moment.  

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Same as doing mag shoots with the likes of the face and Arena Homme plus – doing an interview with someone like Johnny Marr. That’s just sick isn’t it?

It’s something I like doing, something I’m really interested in, but you’ve got to be selective about what magazines you go in. I know these magazines very well and its something I wanted to do. The interview with Johnny Marr was class, I absolutely loved it. I’m looking forward to meeting him soon, but yeah, it’s something I don’t just do for no reason, it’s something I take an interest in and I really enjoy doing stuff like that.

Does it mean that you now look to do things that are different opportunities?

Definitely, it’s something I’m open to. Life is all about trying new things and that’s something people close to me will tell you, I’ll try anything really. If it’s something I feel like I’m interested in then even if it is different, it’s something I would do.

What was it about PUMA that locked you in, beyond the dollar?

Over the last couple of years, the PUMA brand, it’s always been massive, but over the last couple years especially, it’s just getting bigger and bigger – in NBA, F1, Football. Having people like Neymar, it just drags you in really. It’s something I wanted to be a part of. As soon as PUMA started speaking to me and told me their plans for me, they made me feel loved and as soon as I spoke with them there was only one thing I wanted to do.

It’s a global audience you’re now speaking to these days. Do you like the idea of becoming a player that’s loved in all parts of the globe? From Manchester to Texas…

Definitely, when you’re a footballer, you want fans everywhere. In the US, over in Dubai, you want fans everywhere. And if you do have fans everywhere it means you’re doing something right. Fingers crossed I do have fans everywhere. Hopefully, I can keep that up. 

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The more you level up, explore new ventures off the pitch, has it opened your mind to more things you want to explore? Depay has a PUMA signature collection – we gonna get a Grealish one?

Listen, it’s something I would like to do. I have to speak to them about it. I’m not sure what it would look like. That’s the next question, but yeah, it’s something I would like to explore… new ventures off the pitch and do stuff I haven’t done before. But I’m not sure yet, hopefully I carry on playing well and that’s something I can do in the future.

Talking about levels, on the pitch this time – and no disrespect to the levels at Villa – but now when you look across the pitch, you’re playing with some of the most sought after players on the planet. Who is on a joke of a level?

I play with so many good players, brilliant players at Villa, the national team and now at City. It’s a pleasure to play alongside some of these players, De Bruyne, Haaland, Bernardo Silva. Out of all of them I would probably say Kev, some of the stuff he does with a ball is something I’ve never seen in my life and he’s someone so important to our team. To be able to train with him every day is a blessing really, because I can try to learn off him. He’s a great guy as well which makes it even better.

Which players would you most like to play against?

I wasn’t fortunate enough to play against Ronaldo, I was on the bench when he played for United and when I played for City, he was on the bench. I would have loved to have played against him – I was a bit devo’d by that. All the big names in football, De Bruyne, Haaland – I’ve played with them. Mbappe, Neymar, Messi – I’ve played against all of them. I’ve been fortunate enough to play against the best players in the world. Playing against Messi was a bit of a pinch me moment. You’re just standing there and he’s next to you. But, yeah, probably Ronaldo, it was a bit gutting I didn’t get to spend time with him on the pitch.

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You’ve achieved some bucket list moments. What are the new things you want to experience through football?

I’ve achieved everything and more that I could imagine. Playing for my country, my boyhood club Aston Villa, captaining Aston Villa in the Prem, scoring for Aston Villa, playing at the Euros, playing at a World Cup and scoring is something I never even dreamt of. I’m so blessed to be doing what I’ve done. The new experiences, I just want every trophy, whether it be the League Cup, FA Cup and obviously the Champions League. I’d love to win the league as much as possible. It would be brilliant if we could win something with the national team. We got close with the Euros and got to the quarters at the World Cup… if we could go one step further it would be a dream come true.

All those questions are all about doing more, levelling up. While you’re searching for more, are you also proud of all you’ve done?

I’m so proud – sometimes it’s nice when you’re on your own to reflect and think about the good times. I do sit there and think about the good times, I’ve had so many. I’ve done so much in football that I couldn’t even dream of. It’s something I’m so grateful for… to have been given the opportunity by managers. I’ve got so many people to thank, whether it be family, coaches, managers when I was younger. One thing with me, I would not change anything. The highs have made me who I am and so have the lows. So grateful, and at times so proud of myself as well.

What’s one thing you’re working to achieve on or off the pitch more than anything else?

Just to be happy. That’s my aim in life. If I’m happy that means I’m playing well, my family are good and healthy and I’m healthy as well. Being happy is such an important thing in life and that’s one thing I always want to be because that means the stuff around me is going good as well.

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Jack Grealish wears the PUMA Future Ultimate, which you can pick up at

Daniel Jones

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