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Birmingham City vs Aston Villa: Fan who punched Jack Grealish facing lifetime ban as managers call for Second City derby change

A Birmingham  fan is facing a lifetime ban after invading the pitch and punching Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish during the Second City derby at St Andrew’s.

The man was arrested by police and condemned by both clubs and managers after assaulting Grealish in the 10th minute of Villa’s 1-0 win.

He leapt from the corner of the Main Stand and Tilton Road Stand, ran behind Grealish and struck him in the side of the head with his arm.

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Villa captain Grealish went on to score the winning goal in the second half and appeared to be involved in a second incident with a steward as he celebrated with away fans.

Video footage appeared to show the steward being led away by police, although he is not believed to have been arrested.

leftCreated with Sketch. rightCreated with Sketch.

Grealish told Sky Sports: "I was just unaware at the time. I think we had a corner or a throw-in and I was walking into position and I just felt a whack around the side of the face.

"There's rivalry in football but I don't think there is any place for that really. But I just tried to get on with my job in the end and I think I did.

"I scored the winner and we've come away with three points.

“It's the best day of my life. To come here for the first time, captain Aston Villa and score the winner - it's what dreams are made of especially for me being an Aston Villa fan.”

Villa manager Dean Smith said: “It should never happen in a football game, whether it be a local derby or not. Security should be better. That’s why we kick off at 12 o’clock on a Sunday, to keep them out of a pub.

“Unfortunately some mindless moron has gone on the pitch and attacked Jack. Then you’ve got 15,000 idiots clapping him, which doesn’t help the matter.

Jack Grealish was punched by a fan during the Birmingham City vs Aston Villa derby (Action Images)

“He’s matured a lot, he’s a breath of fresh air and I thought the way he handled the whole thing was excellent. There’s only one way to handle that, which is to pop up with the winner, which he did.

“The players’ safety is paramount. I’m all for local rivalry but there has to be a line drawn after today. It doesn’t help when you’ve got people applauding him. That’s disgraceful.

“One of the lads said there was a steward looking to have a go as well. It’s laughable really, something needs to be done and I’m sure the authorities will deal with it as they should do.”

Grealish was also involved in an altercation with a steward after celebrating his goal with the Villa fans (Getty)

Grealish, a boyhood Villa fan, was unhurt by the attack and received an official apology from Birmingham after the game.

Blues manager Garry Monk said: “No 1 is to make sure Jack is alright, I am told he is fine. That’s the most important bit.

“I think I speak on behalf of everyone at Birmingham, not just Birmingham but pretty much everyone in football, that cannot happen on a football pitch.

“An idiotic act like that - the guy that has done it needs to be punished severely and given the ultimate punishment he can possibly get - because that cannot happen on a football pitch.

“Everyone would feel the same.

“The only other thing I would add to that is I have been here a year now and that one idiotic act does not represent what these fans are.”

Police confirmed a man had been taken into custody while the FA, who condemned the attack, are expected to launch a parallel investigation tomorrow.

The EFL also condemned the fan’s actions.

Grealish celebrates his goal vs Birmingham (Action Images via Reuters)

A Birmingham statement read: “Birmingham City Football Club would like to apologise to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa Football Club for an incident in this afternoon’s derby match.

“We deplore the behaviour of the individual who committed this act and rest assured he will be banned from St Andrew’s for life.

“The club will also support any further punishment this individual may face in the eyes of the law.”

(Action Images)

A Villa club statement read: “Aston Villa Football Club is appalled by the disgraceful attack on Jack Grealish during today’s game.

“A red line has been crossed by this cowardly on-field assault on a player, which is unprecedented in English football.

“We trust the perpetrator will feel the full force of the law and the authorities investigate the circumstances surrounding today’s deplorable incident.

“Local rivalries are part of the fabric of the game however, as we are sure our friends at Birmingham City would agree, to have a player’s personal safety placed under such jeopardy is a serious cause for concern for the entire football community.”

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