Video: Fan Invades Pitch, Punches Jack Grealish in the Back of the Head

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2019

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 25:  Jack Grealish of Aston Villa looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Birmingham City at Villa Park on November 25, 2018 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

A Birmingham City supporter invaded the pitch on Sunday during the team's clash with Aston Villa and aimed a punch at Jack Grealish.

The remarkable incident happened early in the game between the two bitter rivals, with the fan taking a swing at the Villa star from behind.

Here's the moment in question:

NBC Sports Soccer @NBCSportsSoccer

There were shocking scenes at Birmingham v. Aston Villa today as a pitch invader ran on and punched Aston Villa's Jack Grealish. https://t.co/aIYHcNKJfK

Alex Young @alexwsyoung

Grealish's face! https://t.co/y7SJjFTJnw

Despite being struck by the fan, Grealish was able to continue and struck the game's only goal in the second half to give Villa the bragging rights in the Second City (video not available in the United States):

Soccer AM @SoccerAM

You could not write it! 😲 After being punched by a fan in the first half, Jack Grealish opens the scoring for Aston Villa against Birmingham! 🙌 https://t.co/EiBedIL2U1

The goal turned out to be the winner and after the game Birmingham released the following statement on their official website apologising to the Villa player:

"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.

"The Club will be working with the relevant authorities to investigate all the circumstances and we will be reviewing our stadium safety procedures.

"What happened has no place in football or society. Jack is a Birmingham lad and regardless of club allegiance should not have been subjected to this—there are no excuses. Again, we apologise to Jack and all at Aston Villa Football Club."

West Midlands Police confirmed they had taken the man into custody:

West Midlands Police @WMPolice

ARREST: Following the incident on the pitch involving an attack on an Aston Villa player; a man has been arrested and en route to a custody block. Further details to follow. https://t.co/fed9KrHBgl

Oliver Holt of the Mail on Sunday commented on the concerning trend of poor fan behaviour in the British game: 

Oliver Holt @OllieHolt22

Spent some of last week thinking fan behaviour was getting out of control in Scotland. Now this happens to Grealish. Maybe we've been getting complacent but this stuff can't be allowed to continue.

As Matthew Stanger of Joe noted, the Birmingham supporters were still targeting Grealish with jeers after the incident: 

Matthew Stanger @MatthewStanger

Miserable that Birmingham fans are actually booing Grealish after that attack

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville thinks serious action needs to be taken against Birmingham: 

Gary Neville @GNev2

The club are going have to take a huge punishment for this to act as a deterrent in the future . A Points deduction or Empty stadium for 10 games ! https://t.co/wQtcAUuvnx

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling was also critical of the supporter:

Raheem Sterling @sterling7

Idiot of the year... congrats on your lifetime ban https://t.co/ocr8RBVzWZ

Grealish is Villa's star man, and as someone local to the area, this fixture will be especially important to him. Earlier in the campaign, he starred for his boyhood club in the reverse fixture at Villa Park, netting in a 4-2 win for Dean Smith's team.

Aside from local pride, both sides were seeking to put together a late push for the Championship playoffs. Ahead of the game, Birmingham were five points off sixth spot, with Villa a further two points back.