Soccer Sport

Dean Smith can’t resist a cheeky message for Birmingham City as the derby draws near

Dean Smith is already gearing up for the Second City derby – even if it’s only to brace himself for banter and abuse from his Birmingham City-supporting friends!

The Aston Villa boss is from a family of claret and blue fans but has plenty of pals who follow bitter rivals Blues.

Smith must negotiate a game against Derby County before the Villa Park clash on November 25 but he’s already excited.

And he aimed this cheeky message at those at St Andrew’s when discussing the forthcoming game.

Dean Smith during the Sky Bet Championship match between Queens Park Rangers and Aston Villa at Loftus Road

“I know most of the players because I sold most of them to them!” he joked in reference to the sales of Harlee Dean, Maxime Colin and Jota from his former club Brentford.

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What’s happening at Aston Villa?

The trio have been among Blues’ best-performing and most consistent players this term.

So although his response was firmly tongue-in-cheek, he will actually have an advantage of knowing their qualities.

Smith is also expecting plenty of interaction with his friends ahead of the clash as the derby gears up to be a mouth-watering occasion.

“My mates who are Bluenoses haven’t said much to me yet. I know it will be coming soon, though,” he added.

“I’ll be expecting them to get in touch when the game gets closer.”

This life-changing move from Brentford to Villa has started slowly after two defeats and a win in his opening three games.

But the club and the supporters need to give Smith time to get his ideas across and continue the trend of improving every club he has managed.

Asked how the fans have taken to him as ‘one of their own’ in these opening weeks, Smith said:

“To be honest I haven’t had much time to meet people, it’s been so full-on with the amount of games we’ve had.

“But it’s been very enjoyable. The Villa fans have been very good to me so far.

“But I also understand they want to see good football and winning football so I will have to produce for them.”

Leicester City latest

Leicester City FC have confirmed with “the deepest regret and a collective broken heart” the death of its chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

The other four people who were on the helicopter when it crashed outside the King Power Stadium on Saturday also died.

It did not take long for Leicester fans to take the Thai self-made billionaire to their hearts after he bought the then-Championship club in 2010 – and helped lead them to a Premier League title six years later.

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha was married to Aimon and they had four children – Voramas, Apichet, Arunroong and Aiyawatt.

Today, Aiyawatt wept as he laid a floral tribute to his dad Vichai at the crash site where he and four others died.

Aiyawatt had missed the flight on Saturday as he was in home in Thailand but is usually at his dad’s side at Leicester games in his role as vice chairman.

There have been plenty of handouts of free beer, water and cupcakes from Mr Srivaddhanaprabha to fans – usually as part of his birthday celebrations.

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Leicester City helicopter crash

In a statement, the club said: “In Khun Vichai, the world has lost a great man.

“A man of kindness, of generosity and a man whose life was defined by the love he devoted to his family and those he so successfully led.

“Leicester City was a family under his leadership.

“It is as a family that we will grieve his passing and maintain the pursuit of a vision for the club that is now his legacy.”

Confirmation of his death brought an outpouring of tributes from a range of people.

Leicester City Council praised him for the “huge contribution” he made to the city, while player Jamie Vardy called him a “legend, an incredible man who had the biggest heart, the soul of Leicester City Football Club”.

Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan, West Ham, Tottenham, Nottingham Forest and Swansea City were some of the clubs that quickly passed on condolences.

Manchester United and England player Luke Shaw tweeted: “This is truly heart breaking, sending all my love and thoughts to everyone at @LCFC and especially Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s family what you created and achieved will never be forgotten a true hero has been lost.”

Earlier former England captain Rio Ferdinand had said his “prayers” were with Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s family.

Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan tweeted: “Some foreign owners use our Football clubs to make plenty of money … @LCFC has lost one who did the complete opposite … Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was an exception to the rule … £RIP.”

Ex-Aston Villa and Wolves boss Paul Lambert arrives at Leicester City to pay tribute after helicopter crash

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha started a duty free shop in 1989, which eventually saw the King Power brand adorn airports across the country, and is now worth an estimated £3.9 billion, according to Forbes.

His affiliation with the Foxes began as part of a shirt sponsorship deal, before brokering a £39 million consortium takeover deal from Milan Mandaric.

Leicester won promotion back to the top flight in 2014, and Mr Srivaddhanaprabha, who became chairman in February 2011, pledged a commitment of £180 million to break into the top five and the ambitious target of European football over the next three years.

With the 2015/16 Premier League title putting the media-shy Thai tycoon firmly in the spotlight, he became known as a man not averse to public displays of emotions or generosity.

Prince William’s heartbroken tribute to Leicester City helicopter crash victim Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

Ahead of the next campaign, 19 BMW cars, costing £100,000 each, were handed to players as a mark of appreciation for their achievements.

A keen polo player who helped establish the Thailand Polo Association, Mr Srivaddhanaprabha also completed the purchase of Belgian football club OH Leuven last year. The First Division B team is currently managed by former Foxes boss Nigel Pearson.

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The new family surname of Srivaddhanaprabha was bestowed by King Bhumibol, former monarch of Thailand, in 2013.

It means “light of progressive glory” in Thai, as recognition of the business’s corporate and social responsibility programmes, including education and children’s health.

Source : BirminghamMail

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