Villa ace on debt he owes to City chief Smith

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith speaks to Ezri Konsa during the Premier League match at St Mary's Sta

Aston Villa defender Ezri Konsa has praised Dean Smith. - Credit: PA

Ezri Konsa was signed by Dean Smith for both Brentford and Aston Villa. 

The 24-year-old was playing in League One with Charlton Athletic before Smith plucked him from the Valley and made him a key part of his Bees side during the 2018/19 season.

In October of that year, Smith departed to join his boyhood club and guided them back to the Premier League after a late surge to the play-offs. 

Konsa reunited with Smith the following summer and became a Premier League player with Villa. Since he was awarded his first start for the club, the defender has been a core part of the squad and is on the cusp of breaking into the senior England set-up. 

Smith departed Villa last month before becoming the head coach of Norwich City just a week later. 

The 50-year-old remains unbeaten ahead of a daunting trip to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. 

City are looking tougher to beat and are conceding fewer chances than was the case a month or so ago. The next task for the Canaries boss to address is the creation of goalscoring chances. 

John Terry was a first-team coach to Smith at Villa and recently told a fascinating story about his approach to man-management. Konsa has added to that praise from a player's perspective.

Norwich City manager Dean Smith before the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Norwich

Ezri Konsa has wished Dean Smith well at Norwich City. - Credit: PA

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The Villa defender, who is now managed by Steven Gerrard, has offered a fascinating insight into how Smith used to address his squad before they went out onto the pitch. 

"He signed me twice, at Brentford and Aston Villa," the defender told Sky Sports. "He gave me my Premier League debut and showed a lot of faith in me. I will always be grateful for what he has done for my career. I hope he does really well at Norwich.

"Before every game he would tell me, 'concentration for 90 minutes.' That would just stick in my head. No matter how tired I am, even if it is the 90th minute, always stay focused because in the Premier League if you sleep for a second you get punished for it."