Faulkner: The Duke of Cambridge really loves the Villa!
Chief executive Paul Faulkner has revealed that the Duke of Cambridge has a genuine love of Villa - and an extensive knowledge of the club and the team.
The pair spent time together at half-time against Sunderland and Faulkner said the Duke's familiarity with the squad list, current form and our huge history was extensive.
Faulkner also revealed that his affection for former club captain Stan Petrov was obvious as the pair chatted at half-time in Randy Lerner's executive box.
He said: "It was great for the Duke to take time to chat. He was very interested in the team, the players and how everything is evolving under the manager. There was genuine interest and excitement.
"He clearly follows the team and you could tell he has done that for a good number of years.
"He is certainly not a fair-weather fan. He is a true supporter.
"It was just great to see him here. It was a historic moment for the football club too. There was a nice connection between him and the club. We hope to have him back before too long.
"He spoke of real appreciation when he left. He loved the stadium. He could sense the history, tradition and majesty of the ground.
"He told us he liked what the club stands for and the way the club carries itself in its dealings, particularly the community efforts.
"You could tell he admired the heritage and dignity of the club. He was very up-to-date with everything going on here - the club, the team and the efforts off the pitch in the community.
"It was great to see him chatting to Stan Petrov at half-time, also. There was great warmth there between the two of them.
"They had met before but I think, as a supporter, the Duke also knew what Stan had been through and knew what a role model he was for the football club - and football in general."
Faulkner said that only two other key personnel at the club knew of the visit prior to Saturday.
And he insisted that the key goal of the afternoon was to ensure that the Duke attended the game as a fan, rather than making the visit a PR spectacle.
He added: "I knew a fair while ago that he wanted to try and come to a game.
"He picked this one out because it fitted perfectly with his schedule. He has an incredibly busy and organised diary. And he has the Prince to look after too, as a father. So getting the green light might be difficult from that respect also!
"When we were given the nod, we made all the necessary arrangements.There were only two other key people at the club who knew.
"It was a day off for him, it certainly wasn't an official function, and he wanted to come along and watch his team with a couple of friends.
"It was simple, straightforward and low-key - and his staff were very easy to deal with.
"We wanted him to come and have a nice day watching his club, rather than have a PR circus follow him about.
"We wanted to respect his wishes. He wanted to come and watch the game. His focus needed to be on the game like the rest of the crowd.
"We didn't want to make it a song and dance which would put him off coming again. Naturally, there's an open-ended invitation.
"As the manager admitted after the match, it wasn't the best spectacle for him but hopefully next time, the goals will flow."
Faulkner revealed his own dealings - as well as a first-class staff tale - made him realise the Duke is a very humble, down-to-earth.
He added: "He was very nice to deal with, very genuine.
"The young lady working in the corporate box told me that as he left he made a point of saying 'Thank-you Jess' to her. She was stunned.
"He knew her name and took time to thank her.
"He's a genuine guy. He left a very good impression."
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