Aston Villa boss Dean Smith buoyed by massive potential of EPL return, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith buoyed by massive potential of EPL return

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith said the "potential is massive", after the club ended a three-year exile from the English Premier League on Monday.

A 2-1 victory over Midlands rivals Derby County in the Championship play-off final at Wembley - dubbed the "richest game in football" - will be worth at least £170 million (S$296.3m) to Villa.

"If someone had told me at the beginning of February that I'd be standing here as a Premier League manager, I'd have said 'you're crackers'," Smith, a lifelong Villa fan, told Sky Sports after goals from Anwar El Ghazi and John McGinn put his side 2-0 up before Martyn Waghorn pulled one back for Derby.

"We made history by winning 10 games on the spin. In this league, that's a tough thing to do."

Smith, 48, believes that the club's co-owners - Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens - can provide Villa with the backing they need to become an established side in the top flight again.

"We've got two owners who have got a lot of money and are in it for the long haul. The potential now is massive," insisted Smith.

The Englishman, who started the season in charge of Championship rivals Brentford, took over at his boyhood club in October with former Chelsea captain John Terry as one of his assistants.

Smith took Villa from 14th place to sixth, earning the last play-off spot, before overcoming West Bromwich Albion in the play-off semi-final.

Monday's victory in front of a Wembley crowd that included Britain's Prince William, a Villa fan, was poignant for Smith, whose father is suffering from dementia.

"I went to see my old man on Friday and I managed to get his eyes open for two minutes and I said to him 'next time you see me I'm going to be a Premier League manager'. He smiled and nodded, for me that's enough." - AFP