Dean Smith pays tribute to late father after Aston Villa’s great escape

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An emotional Dean Smith paid tribute to his late father after securing Aston Villa’s Premier League survival on a pulsating final day of the season. A long and fraught campaign culminated in a 1-1 draw at West Ham, and it was only natural for Smith’s thoughts to turn to his father Ron, who died of Covid-19 at the end of May aged 79.

“It’s been an emotional period,” said Smith, after emerging from a jubilant Villa dressing room with a beer in hand. “I’ve just spoken to the whole family in their living room and they’re immensely proud. A lot of people have lost their lives due to the pandemic, including my father, and he’ll be looking out for us, I’m sure.”

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