It was a moment to overcome the hyperbolic noise surrounding the championship play-off final. The talk of the biggest game in football – 170 million pounds (193 million euros), another tough year for the losers – became meaningless as a silence fell over the stifling media room on the training grounds of Aston Villa when Dean Smith glanced into the Pain offered with which he deals outside of his professional life.

As a fan of Villa for Life, Smith does not need to be told how much it would take to bring this famous club back to the Premier League. For the manager of Villa is more than just money at stake. He has come a long way since the days he cleaned the steps at Holte End, while his father Ron worked as a steward at the Trinity Road stand at Villa Park.

Although Smith is supported by 30 of his friends and relatives when Villa takes on Monday afternoon against Derby, led by Frank Lampard, it's not a question of who gave him his passion for football on the trip to Wembley. This should be one of the proudest days in Ron Smith's life, but he's been in a nursing home for three years and has no idea his son has been managing Villa since October.


Unfortunately, because of his dementia, he does not know that I am the head coach of Villa, "said Smith. "That's probably the hard part of it, I remember … you have to excuse me here."

Smith took a deep breath and blinked back tears as he thought about taking Walsall to the 2015 EFL Trophy final against Bristol City. "After the Walsall game, I had to put my father to bed that night, which is a difficult thing for anyone to do," he said. His voice shook and he paused again to clear his throat. "I put my family aside and focus on Aston Villa." More silence. "Sorry," Smith said, laughing to improve his mood. "I just killed the room."

Local pride is important to Smith, who jokes that he will not find privacy in the pubs around Birmingham these days. He has made a connection with the followers of Villa and found a happy medium by approaching his work with sympathetic equanimity. A suspicious character might have been reluctant to appoint John Terry as his assistant, but Smith does not see the former captain of Chelsea and England as a threat to his authority. Admittedly, Terry's celebrity can catch the eye. It certainly has not gone unnoticed on the training grounds of Villa, where an employee complained that the final as Terry against Lampard was charged.

Instead, it's a game in which two local coaches, who have taken different paths, play together. For Lampard it is also an audition for the Chelsea job, which could be available when Juventus lures Maurizio Sarri from Stamford Bridge.

Smith's background is more modest. The 48-year-old had an unobtrusive playing career and built up his reputation as a progressive coach with Walsall in League One for four years. His determination to play fearless football caught Brentford's attention in 2015 and was at the heart of the revival in Villa, which finished 12th before Steve Bruce's dismissal.


This is the closest Smith to the Premier League, and it is testament to his coaching that Villa, who lost last year's final against Fulham, is favorite. Inspired by the creativity of Jack Grealish, the midfield thrust of John McGinn and the goals of Tammy Abraham, Villa took fifth place.

However, Smith is not to be underestimated, Derby, who were fired by the youthful pranks of Jack Marriott, Harry Wilson and Mason Mount in their rousing semi-final victory against Leeds. He has nothing to prove against Lampard, who was on his feet in the search for his first job. He even tells the story of inviting Lampard to give his team in Brentford a motivational speech. "He and Jody Morris did a fantastic job," Smith said. "You have some good players in Wilson, Mount, [Tom] Lawrence and Marriott. You will ask many questions. But I think we should have the answers. "

Smith has found the right answers since he almost accidentally got the job in Walsall. "If you want to make a career, you have to work your way up," he said. "That's why I take the hat off JT to be here, there's no magic wand, I did not really want the job when I first took it, but I was the only coach left in Walsall at the time The first game was Tranmere away and we lost 3-1, so I looked at Jon Whitney and said, "I can see why we are down in the league."

"We scored twice in the last five minutes to draw the game and got up on the last day of the season, and I had the medicine sprayed on that day when I became manager. I know people often say it, but I do not get too high or too low. It's a game. "- Guardian