I’m in touch with my old Aston Villa team-mate Jack Grealish on WhatsApp pretty much every day so I will be giving him some stick before Sunday’s Carabao Cup final – and joking that I don’t want him to turn up this time because he is playing Manchester City.
There is no way that will happen, though. Jack is a big-game player and he is definitely going to put in a performance at Wembley, where the wide-open spaces really suit him.
He was the main man there in last season’s Championship play-off final and you could argue that was a bigger moment for him, because it was his chance to get back in the Premier League with Villa.
But this is still a landmark match in his career. He has lost an FA Cup final when he was a teenager, but now he has another chance to land his first major trophy at the age of 24.
Sunday’s game is the kind of stage he belongs on and, knowing him like I do, he will relish the occasion and the size of the test that he and Villa face as they try to cause an upset.
‘He loves Villa and he always has done’
Jack and I became close friends during my time at Villa Park and it has been brilliant to watch him fulfil his potential.
I am a few years older than him and whenever he had a dilemma he always used to ask me questions about what I thought he should do.
Some of them were about possible transfers. He had offers and opportunities to leave Villa, but I would just tell him “it is your career – make sure it is you who decides what you do”.