October 17, 2019 / 4:14 PM / 2 months ago

Soccer: Villa boss Smith hails Mings in wake of racist abuse in Bulgaria

(Reuters) - Tyrone Mings’ composure on and off the pitch after suffering racist abuse on his England debut in Bulgaria came as no surprise to his Aston Villa manager Dean Smith, who tipped the 26-year-old defender to thrive on the international stage.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Norwich City v Aston Villa - Carrow Road, Norwich, Britain - October 5, 2019 Aston Villa manager Dean Smith Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Centre back Mings was one of several England players to report the abuse to match officials in England’s 6-0 win over Bulgaria in Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifier at the Vasil Levski stadium.

England boss Gareth Southgate described Mings as an “outstanding leader” after the match, and Smith has echoed that view ahead of Villa’s Premier League home match against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.

“It doesn’t surprise me how he handled the whole situation,” said Smith, who signed Mings on loan from Bournemouth before completing a permanent deal at the start of the season.

“When we go and look at players and speak to them we know what they’re going to bring football-wise, but it’s that personality, character that you’re looking to find out about.

“Me and (assistant coach) John Terry went to meet him and he impressed us. He’s articulate, intelligent and a very good human being as well.”

Mings urged his team mates to play on rather than walk off after two announcements were made under the UEFA protocol, warning the supporters the game would be abandoned if racist chants continued.

“If they walk off that pitch Tyrone loses his debut, the people who have scored lose their goals,” Smith said. “Who is the winner in all of that?”

Smith was impressed with Mings’ assured display for England but said the player’s long-term international future is down to the defensive options available to Southgate.

“He was organising people around him and he looked very good and calm on the ball - the sort of performance that we have seen quite regularly,” Smith added.

“All I can say is that I don’t see many left-footed defenders who are as good as Tyrone at the moment and Gareth saw it that way as well for Monday.”

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis

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