Prince William in tribute to father of Aston Villa boss

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Image source, Reuters
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Prince William said he was "immensely proud" of the club's work in the community

The Duke of Cambridge paid tribute to the late father of Aston Villa manager Dean Smith as he opened the football club's new training centre.

Prince William said Ron Smith, a life-long Villa fan who died after contracting Covid-19, would be "very proud" of his son's achievements.

He also said the high-performance centre in Warwickshire was "amazing".

The prince, a keen Villa fan, wore the club's colours - a claret jumper and blue shirt - to the event.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The prince chatted to players and staff

Before opening the centre in Bodymoor Heath, he quipped: "As the country's best armchair manager, I need to chat to Dean about the next match."

Later in his speech, he paid tribute to Smith who steered the team to promotion and Premier League safety.

He said Smith "tragically lost his father", a former matchday steward, last year.

"His loss is just one of the many ways the pandemic has impacted the club over the last 12 months," he said.

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

"I know your dad would be very proud."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Dean Smith has been Aston Villa manager since October 2018

Prince William heard about the latest work of the Aston Villa Foundation and said he was "immensely proud" to be associated with a club that did so much to support the community, especially through the pandemic.

He was also given a tour of the facilities which the club says aim for the highest standards in performance, strength, rehabilitation and sports therapy.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The prince opened the club's high-performance centre

The duke chatted to players and congratulated midfielder Ross Barkley and defender Tyrone Mings on a good season.

He also asked club captain Jack Grealish when he would be returning from injury and was told he hoped to be back "in a week or 10 days".

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