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Hollywood star Stephenson: Heaven is watching Villa beat Arsenal!

Tuesday media watch [20.11.12 AM]: Stan thanks fans Villa U21s clash at Newcastle switched again
Hollywood star Stephenson: Heaven is watching Villa beat Arsenal!

Exclusive by Paul Brown

So you're an established and much-loved Hollywood actor who's just finished your scenes for Jason Bateman's new movie 'Bad Words'.

Then you've followed that up by doing a stint on hot USA TV show 'Vegas' starring Dennis Quaid.

And you've just signed with a new management company called Brillstein Entertainment.

What do you do to unwind at the end of your hectic week?

Yes, that's right, you get set to watch Villa take on Arsenal this Saturday.

For Bob Stephenson, star of Fight Club, Seven and Con Air, that's exactly what's on the Thanksgiving holiday horizon - football and leftover turkey sandwiches.

A native of Los Angeles, Stephenson got into football at an early age, playing as a kid and watching the action from England without a 'favourite team' as such.

Eventually he knew he had to pin his colours to the mast and elected for the mighty Villa, after being transfixed by them in his years following the Barclays Premier League.

Now he regularly gets up in the small hours to watch every game and screams his house down cheering on the likes of Stephen Ireland, Brad Guzan and his favourite Ron Vlaar.

This weekend is the big clash with Arsenal and he can't wait!

He said: "I grew up supporting Los Angeles teams, namely the Dodgers. I am attracted to well disciplined, working-class, team efforts, rather than a bunch of stars running around playing for themselves.

"I see that in Villa - it's truly a team effort with the boys! "I've played soccer my whole life - through college and in club teams here in LA.

"We didn't get many games here 10 years ago. We'd get the odd Man Utd or Arsenal match but as the World Cup gained interest here, Fox Soccer Channel took hold and now I can watch every game. Yea!

"I watched for years without supporting a specific team but I always found myself watching Villa games and for the past eight or nine years...I've just been a Villa fanatic, simple as that.

"Football ispretty big over here, actually, now. Nearly every kid plays it growing up. It just hasn't the foothold on television.

"We have Baseball (go Dodgers!), American Football, Basketball (go Lakers!) and Hockey (go Kings!).

"There's not much room for soccer. It is growing, however. David Beckham and Thierry Henry and our American national team are building interest for sure. People are getting more into it now.

"But I follow the Villa religiously myself!I loved Ian Taylor. Gareth Barry and James Milner too, they embodied that working-class effort every game.

"I love watching Barry Bannan come into his own. Stephen Ireland can be amazing. I have been so impressed with Ron Vlaar too, he's a top class defender and I think he could play for any team. And our boy Guzan! So happy for him.

"I have had so many happy memories following the boys.I think coming back to beat Everton with a last second Ashley Young strike several years ago was amazing! I can't wait to beat Man Utd in the future too. It's going to happen. We are real close.

"Now we've got Arsenal! Come on Villa! We can pinch one from Arsenal definitely. They haven't been that steady. They score five goals against 10 men for 70 minutes and the Gunners community thinks they're back in form! What?! Come on! We can take them!

"We get all the games here, though many are delayed by a few hours. But I get up at 4am to watch the early kick offs. Sundays are great because I get English football early morning and American football after that.That's a man's day!"

One of the main reasons for his confidence is Paul Lambert, a manager he admires greatly.

Stephenson, of course, got the chance to chat to Lambert at depth with Tom Hanks when the pair attended the Portland Timbers v Villa game during the USA pre-season tour.

He sees real hunger in the boss and real progress in his young team.

He continued: "I just think Paul is amazing! I think in the last few weeks we are seeing the fruits of his labours.

"The team is gelling, keeping their shape, and the football is flowing in the final third.

"These young kids he's signed are proving themselves 10 fold. I am so excited for the future.

"We lost these last two games but if we play like that every week (and the linesman stays out of it), we can beat anyone. I believe that.

"It was so nice to meet him in Portland. It was such a pleasure. It took me a second to get through that thick Scottish accent, haha...but seriously...a real pleasure.

"Standing on the pitch made me want to get out there and play. I didn't want to leave. It was great!

"I am confident that we will push up the table with Paul in charge! No doubt."


Stephenson, of course, is big pals with Tom Hanks, the Hollywood icon also sharing a love of all things claret and blue.

Stephenson says Hanks's support of Villa is growing all the time and the star of Philadelphia and Sleepless in Seattle might even attend a match this year if his schedule allows!

He added: "Tom is a fan. He works so much and is travelling constantly so it's hard for him to watch all the games but he definitely keeps in touch with the team's progress.

"We talk about what's going on. He loves the English football culture and he is such a great guy.

"He was real happy to meet Ian Taylor and Paul Lambert over here.

"It would be a dream scenario for him and me to come over to see the Villa live at Villa Park. I, for one, would throw up from excitement. Tom and I have discussed it for sure.

"He might actually be over there sometime this year. My wife is a huge Chelsea fan (I know, but she's pretty and cooks real good food) and we keep talking about going over and taking in a few games.

"Now if I can just get my schedule to cooperate."

Follow Bob on Twitter at @bobstephenson.

Snap up your tickets for the Arsenal clash.

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 20th November 2012
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