Aston Villa promoted to Premier League: Dean Smith says club's potential 'massive'

By Ian WoodcockBBC Sport at Wembley
Jack Grealish and Dean Smith
Captain Jack Grealish and head coach Dean Smith are both boyhood Aston Villa supporters

Head coach Dean Smith feels Aston Villa's potential is "massive" after winning the Championship play-off final to return to the Premier League.

Villa beat Derby at Wembley to secure a promotion worth an estimated £170m.

Smith, a boyhood Villa fan, said: "It feels right we are a Premier League club because of the history and the fan base that we have.

"The club has gone through some hard years and losing here in last season's final was tough."

Smith, who left Brentford to succeed Steve Bruce as Villa boss in October, added: "I don't know how it feels yet.

"The emotions came when I saw my family crying in the stands. It was a life-changing decision for me to come to this club.

"I isolated my feelings and was calm today. We had been playing must-win games for the past 15."

The 48-year-old oversaw a club-record run of 10 successive league wins during March and April after making fellow Villa fan Jack Grealish captain, and Smith says he has a "special connection" with the playmaker.

"He's a fellow Villa fan and he's been through a lot in his career after he was thrust into the limelight at a very young age," added Smith.

"I had no qualms making him captain because he's a great kid."

Smith told father he would be Premier League manager

Smith's father, Ron, worked as a steward at Villa Park but now lives in a care home and his dementia means that he does not know his son is now Villa's manager.

Smith said: "I went to see him on Friday and he opened his eyes for a couple of minutes and I told him that the next time I saw him I would be a Premier League manager. He smiled.

"It's a terrible illness."

Terry has been 'breath of fresh air' at Villa

Villa assistant coach John Terry has been linked with the managerial vacancy at Middlesbrough after Tony Pulis left the Teesside club earlier this month.

However, Smith believes the former England captain, who he called "a breath of fresh air", will remain alongside him in the dugout at Villa Park next season.

"He's been a pleasure to work with and he's learning from me and (assistant) Richard O'Kelly and we're learning from him.

"He'll go on to be a great head coach further down the line."

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