John McGinn has expressed his pride at being named Aston Villa captain and revealed he spoke with former Villa skipper Jack Grealish after being given the role.
The Scotland international was given the armband by manager Steven Gerrard in the summer as a replacement for team-mate Tyrone Mings and McGinn admitted the decision took him by surprise.
“The day of the announcement, I found out in the afternoon. The manager called me and I was a bit worried about what he was going to say,” McGinn told former Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor in an exclusive interview for talkSPORT.
“Sometimes it’s not always a good thing to be called to the principal’s office, but obviously it was an incredibly proud day for me and my family.
“I’ve been through a lot with this club, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs but it’s a club that sticks to your skin.”
McGinn moved to Villa Park from Scottish side Hibernian in 2018 and quickly became a fan favourite.
The hardworking midfielder scored the winning goal in the 2019 Championship play-off final as Villa returned to the top flight after three years in the second tier.
McGinn admits that after four years in England he now feels settled at Villa Park and has learned a lot from his three predecessors that he will take into his new role as captain.
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“I feel settled here and I feel lucky. When I arrived I was seated next to an incredible captain, James Chester, from whom I learned a lot. He wasn’t a shouter, he didn’t have to shout because he was so respected,” McGinn said.
“He led by example in the way he behaved on a daily basis, in the way he treated people. So I learned a lot from that.
“I learned a lot from Jack [Grealish] just playing his own game and taking games by the scruff of the neck and then Tyrone [Mings] with his leadership qualities. The three gave me so much advice. I spoke to all three.
Despite plenty of advice coming his way, the 27-year-old knows he needs to put his own mark on the captain and stay true to himself – something Gerrard advised him to do.
“It’s important to be myself and to get a bit out of everyone. But I’m not going to start changing, the manager mentioned that.
“He said ‘There’s a reason I gave you the responsibility and that’s to be yourself, don’t change, don’t think you have to start doing motivational speeches’, that which isn’t me anyway.
“It’s certainly a day I will never forget but one that was clouded by disappointment this week [defeat at Bournemouth]. I really want to become a successful captain at Villa, not someone who wears it [armband] for pleasure.
“I won’t take it for granted and I hope to be part of a successful team and lead by the way I play.”
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