Grealish, who passed through Villa’s academy, is now arguably the most important player on the team, and there has been speculation linking him to a summer move to Old Trafford.
But speaking of the Claret & Blue podcast, McLeish said that United’s interest in the player started when he was only 16 years old.
“At that time, we felt that people were contacting him to leave Villa,” he said. “It was one of the main reasons why he got involved with us (in the first team).
“He would have been on the bench anyway because of the losses we suffered. He was the best kid there was. “
“When we played Man United, we heard that he was in a restaurant and that he was being courted by one of the agents to try to drive him to Man United.
“We were a little alarmed about it, so we fought hard to keep it. We knew he also loved Villa, his old man. We had them by talking to them. They are lovely people.
“They asked for something and the club went too much but in the end you came to an agreement and everyone is happy. Jack stayed at Aston Villa, which is great to see one of Villa’s great players staying with his childhood club. ”
It remains to be seen where Grealish’s future lies, but McLeish remembered watching him during academy games and tipping him for greatness.
“I would see Jack with his famous socks on his legs! ” he added. “He had this bluster. Watch him like a child on the ghost field in front of people with the ball at his feet. You could see all day that he was going to be a star, no doubt about it, which is why we thought we ‘I should rather keep him in Villa.
“When Jack came in, I saw that, even though he was not a big shouter, he was a boy who was ready to take the ball in any part of the field. The guy I compared him at the time was Barry Ferguson. He could have played in any stadium in the world and Barry was not afraid to take the ball saying, “Give me the ball, give it to me!” ” ”