Prince William joked he's the "best armchair manager" as he met players from his favourite football team on Tuesday (04.05.21)
The 38-year-old royal - who is president of the FA - wore the colours of his beloved Aston Villa, a claret jumper and blue shirt, to open their new training facility and congratulated the team on a good season so far as he toured the High Performance Centre in north Warwickshire
7 May 2021
As well as poking fun at his own managerial ambitions, William also told players including Tyrone Mings and Ross Barkley that he'd been left on edge by VAR decision-making.
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He said: "VAR is causing some heart attacks but apart from that it's been awesome."
And the prince saw the funny side when centre back Kortney Hause revealed he'd been stopped by police on his way to the ground.
The player said he told the officer: "You've got to let me go, I'm meeting the Duke of Cambridge."
William replied: "I love it. I won't ask you how fast you were going."
After opening the centre and hearing about the work the club's foundation has done for local communities amid the coronavirus pandemic, William took the time to pay tribute to Ron Smith, a club steward and father of the team's manager Dean Smith, who died aged 79 last year after contracting the virus.
He said in a speech: “As you know, Aston Villa is very close to my heart and I'm very delighted to be here today. I'd like to pay particular tribute to one man, for whom Aston Villa has always been in his blood.
"Last year, head coach Dean Smith tragically lost his father - a lifelong Villa fan, a matchday steward, to Covid-19.
"His loss is just one of the many ways the pandemic has impacted the club over the last 12 months.
“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.
"I'm immensely proud to be associated with a club that does so much through the Aston Villa foundation in support of the community, especially through the pandemic as we've heard today."
The club's stadium, Villa Park, is currently home to a mass vaccination centre, and William joked rival fans were unlikely to want to have their appointments there.
He quipped: "I can’t think of a cooler place than Villa Park to be vaccinated - unless you're a Birmingham City fan.”