By Brian Doogan
Paul Lambert believes "the potential we have signed in Jack Grealish is great for everyone connected with Villa" after the 19-year-old attacking midfield player put pen to paper on a new deal to June 2018.
A Villa fan from childhood and a graduate of the Bodymoor Heath Academy, Grealish acknowledged it is "a dream come true to commit my future to my boyhood club".
The talented teenager has made five substitute appearances for Villa in the Barclays Premier League along with one start in the Capital One Cup and the Villa manager is delighted that the Club will be able to benefit from his continued development.
"There's always an excitement around a young player who comes through the Academy, but the thing is the potential we have signed in Jack Grealish is great for everyone connected with Villa," Lambert said.
"He has a long way to go in the game but the potential that's in him, we believe, means we could have a really good player in the years to come.
"It's great for everybody here that he's committed to the Club. I'm appreciative of the efforts of Tom Fox, who worked hard on this with the Chairman, and we're all delighted.
"We believe Jack can be a really good player for Villa and that's very encouraging in terms of where we see our future."
Grealish made his debut off the bench in the Premier League game against Manchester City last season at the Etihad Stadium and, with his family's strong connections to the Club, he is determined to "kick on and follow in the footsteps of Gabby Agbonlahor", another Academy graduate and boyhood Villa fan.
"I'm delighted and it's a dream come true to commit my future to my boyhood club," Grealish said.
"I've grown up supporting the Club - in fact, I've had a season ticket at Villa since I was four years old and came to every game - so this is a big thing for me and my family.
"All of my family are Villa fans and my dad [Kevin] has been there from the start, all through my career he's followed me and he hasn't missed a Villa game this season.
"This has always been a club that plays a big role in the community, it has a family feel to it and I'm proud to be part of that now. This feels like home to me.
"For the manager and the Club to show this faith and trust in me, I'm really appreciative and I'm determined to repay that trust.
"I know I have to continue to kick on and push on now, I have to keep developing and progressing and I have to strive to be as good a player as I can possibly be. "Mentally and physically, I came on a lot last season on loan at Notts County and that experience helped me loads.
"They were bottom of the table when I went there, so every game mattered and they were a great group of people to work with and learn from. I matured a lot last season.
"That experience will help me now and every day I'm learning from the players here and the manager and it's been a steep learning curve that can only benefit me in the long run.
"We've made a really solid start to the season and there's a strong belief that we can continue to progress as a team. It's great to feel a part of that.
"Growing up in the Academy with the likes of Gordon Cowans, Tony McAndrew, Ben Petty, Kevin MacDonald and Bryan Jones looking after us and making us better, that's been a big part of my development as a player and as a person.
"I look at some of the other players who have come through the Academy and who are playing week in, week out, following in the footsteps of someone like Gabby Agbonlahor. That's my motivation and I'm really determined to do everything I can to contribute to the Club."
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