The father of Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith has died after contracting Covid-19.
The Premier League club announced 79-year-old Ron Smith, a lifelong Villa fan, had died after a four-week battle against coronavirus.
A club statement read: “The Aston Villa Family are saddened to announce that Ron Smith, the father of our current head coach Dean, has passed away at the age of 79.
The Aston Villa Family are saddened to announce that Ron Smith, the father of our current Head Coach Dean, has passed away at the age of 79.— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) May 27, 2020
“Ron, who had recently been living in a care home after being diagnosed with dementia six years ago, contracted coronavirus four weeks ago and after a short spell in hospital passed away with his family at his side.
“A lifelong supporter, Ron was a steward at Villa Park for many years and passed on his love of the club down to his children.
“As well as being a regular at home games, Ron was also there to witness that greatest of days in May 1982 when Villa lifted the European Cup in Rotterdam.
“The thoughts of everyone at the football club are currently with Dean and his family at this most distressing of times and would kindly ask for the family’s privacy to be respected.”
So many great memories and a wonderful man, I know you’re in a better place now. Rest easy grandad, we love you lots 🙏🏻❤️another great Holte Ender in the Sky! 💜 https://t.co/BFCilMgo6D— Jamie Smith (@JamieSmith_25) May 27, 2020
Ron Smith worked as a steward at Villa Park for 25 years and was often in charge of taking former chairman Sir Doug Ellis to his seat in the Trinity Stand.
Dean Smith revealed after last year’s Championship play-off final victory that he had pledged to his father to return his bedside as a Premier League manager, even though dementia meant he did not know his son was the head coach.
“I went to see my old man on Friday and he kept his eyes open for two minutes,” Smith said after the 2-1 win at Wembley.
“I told him the next time I come to see him I’ll be a Premier League manager, and he smiled.”
Our thoughts go out to the gaffer, Dean Smith, and his family during this time.— 7500 to Holte (@7500toHolte) May 27, 2020
A month before the final, Dean’s mother Hilary laid bare the family’s love for Villa.
“I’m so proud, so proud,” she told BirminghamTV. “It’s fantastic. It’s something he’s always wanted to do and his dad would be so proud. His dad’s got dementia and he’s in a home.
“I knew nothing about football until I met my husband in 1964 and we followed them everywhere, ribbons on the car and everything. For our family, his wife, my grandchildren, it’s absolutely fantastic.
“I try to go to the away games but I’m usually doggy-minding Dean’s dog. I go to every home game and most games away. It’s tremendous because we’re all Villa supporters. We’re a Villa household.”
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