First, the villa boss experienced the effectiveness of the former English national player as a first-hand communicator, after he had hired him as a motivational speaker.

Two years ago, Smith, then head of Brentford, invited Lampard to an interview with his players.

The Chelsea legend, whose Rams team wants to prepare a tomorrow's unbeaten run in six games when Villa goes to Pride Park tomorrow, has certainly made a positive impression.

"If you meet Frank, he has a really good path," Smith said. "He understands the game and what it takes to get to the top, as he did.

"And he articulates it well, you can see right now how he wants to play, he gets along very well with his players and they (derby) show what a good team they are."

Smith continued, "We've done it fairly regularly to get someone from another sport or someone at the top of the game.

"I've known his father, Frank Sr, for a while, and I asked if he could contact Frank to see if he would come and talk to the players.

"Frank then kindly stopped by and talked to all the players and staff and was really good.

"He talked about his career, his path to where he came from, and how he sees where he is going in the future.

Derby against Aston Villa: Matt Maher and Luke Hatfield give a preview of the game

"He's just started training with the younger players at Chelsea. It was great for my players to hear from someone who made his career and how hard he worked on it. "

Former Royal Marine command Jason Fox and rugby coach Ben Ryan were among the other speakers who visited Brentford during Smith's tenure.

It is a policy that the head coach always strives to explore new methods and ideas, and now intends to continue at Villa. The first speakers are already in line, although their identity is kept secret.

Smith added, "There's a couple up my sleeve, and I think it would be really good to come in, because the players are listening and asking questions. I think that's the most important thing that they ask questions.

"One of the things we started out in Brentford and would like to do here is to go to other sports and then come back and present it to staff and players.

"It's a good practice and you can get ideas from other sports and clubs."

Lampard got his first break in management this summer and the fifth-ranked Rams won for their offensive play and are certainly the toughest trial Smith's Villa has ever experienced.

There are a number of storylines in which Villa wants to snatch a three-game defeat away from home, not least the presence of John Terry, Lampard's longtime Chelsea team-mate.

Smith joked that former international teammates had called each other during the week to discover the other team's team.

"It will be pretty unique for everyone because they spent so much time together in a club," Smith said.

"Going head-to-head will be very interesting for each of them."


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