William’s tribute to Aston Villa boss’s father who died from Covid-19

The Duke of Cambridge said Ron Smith, a lifelong Villa fan who died aged 79 last year, would have been “very proud” of the achievements of his son who has steered the team to promotion and Premier League safety since being appointed in 2018.

Keen amateur footballer and FA President, William visited the team’s training ground to hear about the work of the club’s foundation protecting and supporting communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

And he shared a laugh with the squad, joking about the use of modern technology in football and a player who was stopped by police just before meeting the duke.

The future king is a keen Villa fan and wore the club’s colours – a claret jumper and blue shirt – for his visit to its high performance centre at Bodymoor Heath in north Warwickshire.

In the open air he met the squad and coaching staff and was told by the club’s manager “You’ve got the right colours on today” and replied “Absolutely”.

William met several of the team during the visit on Tuesday

/ PA

William was then asked if he watched Villa’s match against Everton on Saturday, which the Midlands team won 2-1, and said he had describing it as a “good game”.

Later in his speech the duke told the guests: “As you know, Aston Villa is very close to my heart and I’m very delighted to be here today. I’d like to pay particular tribute to one man, for whom Aston Villa has always been in his blood.

“Last year, head coach Dean Smith tragically lost his father – a lifelong Villa fan, a matchday steward, to Covid-19.

“His loss is just one of the many ways the pandemic has impacted the club over the last 12 months.

“I want to offer my sincere condolences to Dean and pay tribute to his extraordinary contribution to the club since joining in 2018.

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