Inside the Jack Grealish viral videos that will melt your heart

“I don’t think he even knows he’s Jack Grealish. I don’t think he knows how worshiped and adored he is by people across the world. He doesn’t know how famous he is or he doesn’t care!

“He’s the most humble, down-to-earth lad you could ever meet.

“Before I met him I probably thought he was this big superstar, a bit of a poser, the new David Beckham, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“He could be working in McDonald’s rather than being one of the most well-known players in the world because he’s that normal and approachable.

“His kindness and his family’s kindness have changed my daughter’s life and I can’t thank them enough.”

Manchester City star Jack Grealish gives Abbie Pinder a big hug as she beams with delight on their first meeting at the Etihad Stadium.

Graeme Pinder continues to eulogize about the Manchester City and England star as the doting dad-of-two pings across two videos by WhatsApp to the Manchester Evening News.

Chances are you’ve seen them already.

Both tear-jerking clips of his 14-year-old daughter Abbie interacting with Grealish on two separate trips to the Etihad Stadium have gone viral, clocking up hundreds of thousands of views on various social media platforms.

Even those doubters who still wrongly regard the floppy-fringed, socks-rolled-down, swaggering Brummie as a prima donna can’t fail to have had their hearts melted by the videos.

But before we get to those, what brings a Sunderland-supporting Dad and his family to Manchester City in the first place?

“A teenage crush,” smiles Graeme, taking up the story. “But it’s not just a teenage thing. Her mum de ella-my wife, Zoe-has given her plenty of encouragement as she fancies him too!”

Abbie has cerebral palsy. It does not affect her mentally and she attends a regular school, but it affects her mobility and she is confined to a wheelchair.

Until Grealish burst onto the scene as England’s attacking talisman at last summer’s Euros, the former Aston Villa favorite had escaped Abbie’s attention.

It was while her Dad was watching the Three Lions march to the final on the television that his daughter became kissed with Super Jack.

Graeme did too, if he’s being honest, rating him as the country’s best swashbuckling football entertainer since Paul Gascoigne.

‘What first attracted Abbie to doe-eyed, bequiffed, tanned and toned pin-up Jack Grealish?’ the Manchester Evening News cheekily asks Graeme.

“She never had any interest in football or footballers, or any other celebrities, film stars or pop stars or anything like that, but there was something about Jack. I can’t imagine what it was!” he grins back.

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“After that whenever he was on the telly she wanted to watch him, she wanted to find out more about him and she was captivated by him.”

So much so that Graeme decided to get tickets for City’s Premier League match against Chelsea at the Etihad in early January.

Dad and daughter positioned themselves near the team bus but were on the wrong side of it and only got to glimpse the back of Grealish’s head as he made his way into the stadium.

Although Grealish played the entire game as City won 1-0 thanks to a Kevin De Bruyne goal, the handmade sign Abbie crafted to attract the No.10’s attention failed to do the trick as they were too far away from the pitch.

Undeterred, Graeme decided to email the club asking for some advice about how to get Abbie closer to her hero.

Another hero, City’s business development manager Eddie Rimmer, suggested the family get a hospitality package for the next home match against Fulham.

Because it was an FA Cup tie the prices were reduced but it was still a hefty outlay for a family of Mackems whose footballing allegiances lie 140 miles up the road at the Stadium of Light.

“It cost £500 each for Abbie, me and my wife and by the time you’ve factored in the hotel and travel it was the best part of two grand,” winces Graeme.

“We could have had a week in Majorca for that, but it was more than worth it!”

Forget fun in the sun, what would unfold on a freezing January afternoon in Manchester was to light up Abbie’s life.

Not only did Eddie help sort out the tickets, he ensured that the family’s seats were pitchside, much closer to the players, and facilitated the first meeting between Abbie and Grealish.

Ushered into reception to escape from the cold, Abbie, Zoe and Graeme were stationed behind a desk as Pep Guardiola’s Premier League title favorites filed into the stadium ahead of the cup tie.

Which brings us to viral video Number One.

With Graeme acting as chief videographer his phone perfectly captured the moment of a lifetime as a little nod from a security guard alerted Grealish to where his No.1 fan was patiently waiting.

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As the clip shows, Grealish makes a beeline for Abbie and takes time and care to autograph a Manchester City shirt with a personalized message, while Mum Zoe giggles excitedly and says ‘She loves ya.’

Grealish is not done there. Abbie is crying tears of joy as he strolls around the counter, gives her a big hug and squeezes her hand from her. It’s a really touching moment.

He might be English football’s most expensive ever player at £100 million, but his meeting with Abbie is priceless, as is the beaming grin on her face as she comes to terms with what’s just happened.

That first meeting did more than catapult Abbie into the hearts of football fans everywhere. It sparked a brilliant friendship between her and Grealish’s sister Holly, who also has cerebral palsy, and kicked off a relationship of mutual warmth and respect between the two families.

After the 4-1 win over Fulham, in which Grealish played 77 minutes, he got a message to the Pinders that he wanted to give Abbie another signed shirt. Unable to deliver it himself because he required treatment for an injury, he got team-mate Kyle Walker to do the honors.

Another wonderful Etihad employee, head of first-team engagement and support, Amanda Racine, told Abbie that Grealish was keen to invite her and her family to a future match as his guests.

Graeme was blown away by the gesture of generosity.

“I thought ‘it’s never gonna happen’ but it did!” continue Graeme. “After that Abbie got talking to Jack’s sister Holly on social media and they exchanged numbers. They’ve become best buddies since then and chat most days.

“Jack got in touch with us through Amanda, who is the player liaison officer at the club. She’s been brilliant as well, so please make sure you mention her!

“We were invited to join Jack’s family in his private executive box for the Brighton game. He paid to put four of us up in a hotel and paid for everything. There was Abbie, me, Zoe and Abbie’s twin sister Ellie.

“The Grealish family were so lovely. Holly, Jack’s Mum, Karen, his girlfriend Sasha and a couple of family friends. They were all there and made us feel so welcome.

“We couldn’t get to meet his Dad, Kevin, but he Facetimed us before the game to check we were being looked after properly and I’ve spoken to him lots of times on the phone. What wonderful people.”

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Abbie Pinder (centre) poses for a photo with Manchester City star Jack Grealish and sister Ellie, dad Graeme and mum Zoe.

It was at that match, a 3-0 Premier League victory over Brighton & Hove Albion, that viral video No.2 was filmed.

Grealish was an unused substitute that day, but his starring role arrived after the game when he joined his guests in his box.

The clip – again recorded by Graeme – shows the 26-year-old playmaker opening a thoughtful gift from Abbie. A natural charmer, he seems genuinely delighted.

But what was the prezzie that left him beaming his head off?

“The video doesn’t show what she bought him,” says Graeme. “What do you buy Jack Grealish? You could get him a Lamborghini and he might say I’ve already got three of those!

“You’re not going to impress him with a flashy expensive gift, so we wanted to get him something personal.

“It’s a pair of Peaky Blinders cufflinks! Honestly, I loved them. You could see that in the video. I really appreciated the gift.

“We know Jack likes Peaky Blinders because Holly told Abbie and obviously there’s the Brummie connection too.

“Abbie also got Holly a Coronation Street mug because she’s a massive Corrie fan.

“They were just a couple of tokens of our appreciation to say how thankful and grateful we were to all of the Grealish family.”

Not only has that shared experience sealed a lasting respect between the families, it has given Abbie a major boost as she prepares for an operation ahead of her 15th birthday later this month.

“She’s due to have hip surgery soon and she’s been in serious pain, but this has meant the world to her,” adds Graeme.

“We feel like we went there as fans and left as friends. We’ve had lovely messages from Kevin, Holly and Sasha and Jack is a credit to his family. You can tell he’s been brought up well.

“We hope the friendship continues. Abbie doesn’t want or need anything at all. Anything she wanted they have already given to her and much much more with their respect and kindness.

“We’re all adopted Man City fans now. My wife hit the nail on the head. This goes beyond football rivalries. Jack and his family and the way they’ve been with us restores your faith in humanity.

“I just wish Pep would play him a bit more often!”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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