Dean aims to ‘checkmate’ Rams

By Graham Hill

DEAN Smith has revealed the game that inspired him to go into football management.

The Villa boss was a schoolboy CHESS champion – and reckon that helps him work out some of his strategies from the touchline to this day.

Smith told The Times: “I was an avid chess player and part of the school chess team.

“We became West Midlands school champions!

“Write the move down, put on the timer.”

Smith says his inspirations are not just from the world of football – they include famous chess players such as Garry Kasparov, Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer.

The Villa boss will be hoping it will be checkmate for Derby County at Wembley next week when they meet in the Championship Play-off final for a place in the Premier League.

Smith watched last year’s final against Fulham from the USA – and it was tough to see his boyhood side miss out.

He told Villa’s official website” “I was in the States when we lost to Fulham. I watched it on my laptop in 11am in the hotel.

“I ’m really pleased we managed to get through, but we have one very tough game to go.

“The players have been able to relax a little since getting to the final. It was a proud night going through at West Brom and if you’d offered me a place in the final 15 games ago I’d have bitten their hands off.

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