USA Tour: Chicago chief hails Villa as "excellent ambassadors"
Villa have been hailed as "excellent ambassadors" for Birmingham after waving an emotional goodbye to Chicago.
Paul Lambert's men ended a terrific three-day adventure in the Windy City on Sunday after flying out to Portland.
But Chicago made quite some impression on all those of claret and blue persuasion in the official party.
Equally, Villa made a host of new friends with Richard Colley, vice-consul for UK Trade and Investment in Chicago offering them a glowing reference.
He said: "It was great to see Villa out here in Chicago. It was fantastic.
"They were excellent ambassadors for Birmingham. We obviously have the sister-city relationship between Chicago and Birmingham which began in 1993. And having the football team from one play the soccer team from the other is tremendous all-round.
"Having Villa here - a sports club with tremendous heritage and history and a real iconic name in football worldwide - is truly fantastic."
Colley, who was born in Stourport-on-Severn, moved to Chicago in 2009 with the commercial role of fostering ties between USA companies either doing business or wanting to do business in the UK and helping UK companies export to the USA.
He believes Chicago is the perfect destination for Brits looking for an exciting holiday in the USA, just as he believes Birmingham is a brilliant venue for Americans looking for top sport, culture and recreation in the UK.
He continued: "Birmingham is a really tremendous city to visit. Like Chicago, it's a fantastic city - the second city in the country - with good bars, restaurants, sport and excellent culture. I would definitely recommend it to the people of Chicago.
"Also I'd advise any Brummies who have yet to book a holiday to really consider Chicago. It's the hidden gem in the USA.
"People go to the east and the west coast but Chicago is an amazing city.
"Everyone who leaves here goes away with positive things to say about it. It's a great sporting city - it really loves its sport with football, soccer, baseball, basketball, ice hockey. It's a superb city to live in and, of course, to visit."
Colley believes Villa have made many new friends with their proactive and professional approach on the USA Tour.
And he thinks a glut of Chicago sports fans might well start following the claret and blue, with soccer gaining momentum across the pond.
He added: "Soccer is getting a lot of popularity here in the USA. The World Cup helped that a few years ago.
"It also helps with the USA stars in the Barclays Premier League now, the likes of Eric Lichaj and Brad Guzan.
"It's always going to be dominated by the Bears and the Cubs - they have a long heritage here - but soccer is getting interesting over here.
"There are a lot of bars now who play Premier League games early in the morning on Saturday and Monday. Let's hope more folks from Chicago get up early to watch the Villa now!"
Caption - Richard Colley meets up with Villa CEO Paul Faulkner.
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