During the early stages of the Second City Derby against Birmingham City, a man entered the pitch and attacked Jack Grealish after the Aston Villa captain was walking away from the action.
Luckily, Grealish walked away with no injuries and remained calm throughout as security caught the attacker and took him off the pitch. The rest of the players also stayed reasonably composed, despite the alarming incident.
The Second City Derby between these two sides has always been a tense affair, but this reckless sense of violence is totally unacceptable. Aside from the intruder himself, there's no doubt the club will also have to deal with consequences in the weeks to come.
West Midlands Police tweeted: "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.”
An EFL spokesperson commented: "The EFL condemns the mindless actions of the individual who encroached onto the pitch at St Andrews on Sunday afternoon. It's a situation no player should ever be faced with."
"In all circumstances the playing surface is for players, not supporters and those playing in the game must be safe in the knowledge they will not be subjected to this type of behavior. Whilst this incident falls within the remit of the Football Association, we will work with all the relevant parties to address the issue of player and match officials safety on the pitch and ensure the appopropriate action is taken."
Despite the ugly incident, the 23-year-old attacker remained calm throughout.
His performance was rewarded and in the 67th minute, Grealish scored the only goal in the game, making it 1-0 to the visitors.
After the game, Grealish spoke out on the incident. "I was just unaware at the time,” he said. “I was walking into position and I just felt a whack around the side of the face. Obviously there’s rivalry in football but I don’t think there’s any place for that really."
The clubs also issued statements.
"A red line has been crossed by this cowardly on-field assault on a player, which is unprecedented in English football", said Aston Villa.
"We trust the perpetrator will feel the full force of the law and the authorities investigate the circumstances surrounding today’s deplorable incident."
Birmingham City echoed these sentiments, confirming the intruder will never enter the stadium again. "We deplore the behavior 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."
"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 apologize to Jack and all at Aston Villa Football Club."